Date of Award


First Advisor

Nancy Bonvillain

Second Advisor

Larry Wallach


To Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut once said “it is a fact that almost all your films tell the same story.” Perhaps it is because they, like all stories, utilized what Hitchcock termed the “MacGuffin”, an object of near infinite value within the story but otherwise insignificant in terms of its identity. In my thesis, The Roving Jewel, I examine the paradoxical nature of the MacGuffin in order to better understand the relationship between language and music. While music and language are similar in many respects, the differences between them in current practice often obscure the nature of such similarities. Most prominent in relation to these differences is the use of, until recently, visual schema of representation for what are acoustic phenomena. Much of the commonality between music and language exists in this visually unrepresented space, and it is through paradox and reference that I examine the paradoxical unreferrability of the meaningful sound.


Ask at the Alumni Library circulation desk for the companion piece that accompanies this thesis.

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