Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2016

Degree Type



School of Music

First Reader

John Z. McKay

Second Reader

Gretchen Woertendyke


Music and literature are both inherently narrative structures. Because of this, when the paraphrase of a musical aspect is similar to the paraphrase of a literary aspect, that literary aspect, whether it is a character or action, can be metaphorically mapped onto the music at that point. Like any mode of interpretation the theorist must be careful to remain true to the music, but conscientious metaphorical mappings provide a creatively stimulating approach to both literature and music that can engender an even deeper understanding of the music itself. There are many precedents to this approach. Renowned theorists including Lawrence Kramer, Joshua Banks Mailman, and Lawrence Zbikowski have already set the framework for this methodology through various discussions of musical narrative and cognition. To demonstrate its practical applicability, an in-depth metaphorical mapping of “Verrufene Stelle” from Robert Schumann’s Waldszenen with Shakespeare’s Hamlet is offered—both from an absolute and programmatic standpoint. Further application into the topics of cross-musical and cross-literary analyses will also be briefly addressed.

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© 2016, Aubrey Elizabeth Leaman