Music, Literature, and Trauma

Student: Carrianne Dillon
Mentor: Pamela Buck
Major: English 

For as long as there has been strife and trauma, there has been art created to challenge, understand, and cope with it. Just as Vonnegut, O’Brien, and Foer construct their novels, composers such as Tchaikovsky, Ives, and Penderecki utilize similar compositional strategies for communicating the turbulent emotions of and reactions to war. Juxtaposition of themes, non-traditional narrative structure, and the search for answers all translate clearly between text and score. Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and Peter Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture employ juxtaposition of themes to great effect. The non-linear and non-traditional structure of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five is also utilized in Krzysztof Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima. The timeless search for meaning shapes Jonathan Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, as well as Charles Ives’s The Unanswered Question.