Date of Award
Master of Arts
Dr. Christopher White
Dr. Rashidah Jaami Muhammad
Dr. Liam Lanigan
An examination of musical references (“literary needle drops”) in contemporary literature: Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, and Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. The novels are viewed through the various conceptual lens, literary and otherwise, such as Marcel Danesi’s Modal Flow Principle or “perceptual stimulations” as defined by Guillemette Bolens.
Egan’s novel utilizes punk bands and tracks to construct her characters’ identities, and send them on a journey through lost time to reflect on who they once were, who they have become, and whether they have been able to preserve the authenticity the Bay area music scene once demanded of them. Smith transforms the genre of hip-hop into an authentic Black cultural proxy in order to juxtapose the artform with classical music, which is largely propelled by a lily-White discourse. Lastly, Murakami creates a work with a carefully curated selection of jazz and classical pieces, as well as pop songs, to enrich the narrative through added characterization and the establishing of mood.
Alvarado, Adan S., "Literary Needle Drops: The Use of Music as a Postmodern Tool in Contemporary Fiction" (2022). English Theses. 3.