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Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Music Publishes New Book About Song, Poetry, and Politics in Sri Lanka

Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Music Publishes New Book About Song, Poetry, and Politics in Sri Lanka

Staff Reports | Mar 14, 2017

Garrett Field, assistant professor of ethnomusicology/musicology, and his recently published book entitled Modernizing Composition: Sinhala Song, Poetry, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Sri Lanka. It will be published by the University of California Press in March. Photo on left by Daniel King.

 

 

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and the School of Music are pleased to announce the publication of Garrett Field’s forthcoming book. Field is assistant professor of ethnomusicology/musicology, and his new book is entitled Modernizing Composition: Sinhala Song, Poetry, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Sri Lanka. It will be published by the University of California Press in March. 

Modernizing Composition is featured in a book series entitled South Asia Across the Disciplines, which is jointly published by the University of California Press, Columbia University Press and the University of Chicago Press. 

Ethnomusicologists and South Asian studies scholars may find Field’s book unique because it attempts to construct a bridge between the study of South Asian music, which falls under the purview of ethnomusicology, and South Asian literature, which falls under South Asian studies. Field suggests that the academic separation of music from literature has created a situation where scholars rarely take notice of connections between modern song and poetry. Modernizing Composition seeks to overcome this disciplinary fragmentation: it examines the dual history of Sinhala-language song and poetry in twentieth-century Sri Lanka. In the book Field describes how songwriters and poets modernized song and poetry in response to colonial and postcolonial formations. Field considers the story of this modernization significant in the way it shifts focus from India’s relationship to the West to little-studied connections between Sri Lanka and North India.

Field began to study the Sinhala language in 2008, and first visited Sri Lanka to study Sinhala under the auspices of a Sinhala Language Instruction Grant funded by the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies in 2009. Field’s dissertation and book research in Sri Lanka was made possible by the generous support of a 2010 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Award from the US Department of Education, another Language Instruction Grant from the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies, as well as an Ohio University Baker Fund Award. 

“Garrett Field’s book takes an innovative approach toward studying modern Sinhala songs as literary works in their own right. His delightful translations and insightful analysis serve to make these little-studied works into a fascinating lens for viewing significant political and cultural changes in modern South Asia.” —Stephen C. Berkwitz, author of Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism: Alagiyavanna and the Portuguese in Sri Lanka.

 

 
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