This project explores the complex relationship between language and violence. Many theorists, such as Elaine Scarry, argue that language is silenced by violence and that extreme trauma inherently defies representation. Despite the impossibility of representing trauma, its preservation is a cultural and historical necessity. I am going to examine the different ways extreme violence is depicted in both poetry and music and the complex moral issues that are raised by these representations. Ezra Pound wrote The Pisan Cantos while imprisoned in a cage at the DTC in Pisa. I plan on exploring the role of personal and cultural memory in the Pisan Cantos as well as his depictions of WWII and in particular, the way he aligns the current war with ancient history. H.D.’s Triology explores similar questions and her personal experiences in WWI caused her to evaluate very directly, the role of writing and preservation in the face of destruction. I am also planning on comparing these works with the way the Holocaust is represented in Steve Reich’s Different Trains and Shoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, focusing on questions of authenticity and the limitation of traumatic memory.
Level of Honors
Jacobs, Ruth J., "Remembering as a Source of Creation in the Poetry of Ezra Pound and H.D. and the Musical Representations of the Holocaust by Arnold Schoenberg and Steve Reich" (2012). Lawrence University Honors Projects. Paper 23.