Dissertation Index

Author: Pausina, Melissa A

Title: "Bartleby": An Intertextual Music Drama.

Institution: Temple University

Begun: January 2009

Completed: January 2010


Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener was published in 1853. A fictional Law Office located at "No.___Wall Street" is the setting for Melville's tale of a nameless lawyer narrator who becomes increasingly despondent over his copyist employee Bartleby's constant passive refusal: "I prefer not to." This calls into question, who is Bartleby? The musical composition answer this question by appropriating meaning to Bartleby's ambiguous behavior via the expressive properties of music and the disseminative power of language. In my adaptation of the story, Bartleby, who is nearly mute in the novella, sings the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Shakespeare, and William Blake in response to the uncomprehending inquiries of his employer. This leads to my discussion of the expressive logic of my integration of specific texts into Melville's original story followed by an analytical discussion of the musical language of Bartleby and its concomitant musical form.

Keywords: Music drama, Melville


1. Introduction
2. Music Analysis
3. Melville's Bartleby
4. Intertext and Narrative


5100 Avron blvd.
Metairie, LA 70006



     Return to dissertations