Music and Creation

What is music and how can we study it?

In this third volume of her forthcoming series 'In Search of Human Culture', the eminent anthropologist offers her own answers. she draws on both on her own first-hand work in Africa, the South Pacific and England and on extensive documentary sources, and provides a guide to the vast literature on the issues.

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About Ruth Finnegan

My writing name for fiction books is Catherine Farrar. Under my academic name of Ruth Finnegan I am currently – and proudly – Emeritus Professor in Social Sciences (Sociology) at The Open University, United Kingdom. I have conducted anthropological fieldwork in Africa, Fiji and England, publishing mainly on the anthropology of art, communication, and performance, also on comparative literacy, ‘orality’ and multimodality. My recent publications include ‘Communicating’ (2002), ‘The Oral and Beyond’ (2007), ‘Why Do We Quote?’ (2011) and a second (illustrated) edition of ‘Oral Literature in Africa’ (due out 2012 on both the web and Print-on-Demand) I have been writing and publishing as an academic (quite successful in my own field as shown by my election to a British Academy Fellowship) since the 1960s and enjoy it an agonised kind of way, each work producing its own kind of anguish, apart from ‘The Little Angel‘ which came to me by a different route. In 1969, after some years teaching in Africa, my husband David and I, now living in Old Bletchley in south central England, came to the Open University in 1969 as part of the first wave of academic staff. We hugely appreciated the OU’s mission to reach part-time distance-learning students who would otherwise not have been thought capable of attaining university degrees. I am greatly honoured that I remain associated with the OU for the rest of my life following my election as an Emeritus Professor.

I was myself born and brought up in Derry and Donegal in northern Ireland which will forever affect my outlook and language, not least my love of music (I still like to sing in a choir – reflected in Sophy’s reluctant engagement in ‘The Little Angel’) and in the music of words. For this and much else I owe a great debt to my parents, Tom and Agnes Finnegan, to my brothers and sister who are still there, and to our wonderful three daughters, their husbands and their children, who I hope will one day read and enjoy these stories.

The stories were revealed in a remarkable way through a series of dreams during an illness over the last year.

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