Port Cities

Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Ruth Ellen Kocher

Second Advisor

Noah Eli Gordon

Third Advisor

Martin Bickman


A speaker experiencing physical isolation, interpersonal disconnection, and gaps in knowledge of familial history/ancestry, attempts to piece together and rationalize discrete sequences in multiple figures lives, thinly veiled by operatic structure. The speaker desires to sustain briefly-experienced moments of physical, intellectual, and emotional connection, despite the awareness of this being unfeasible. Familial history, diaspora/emigration, itinerancy, and physical/emotional intimacy are questioned through the speaker's longing for reason in the unknown; in particular, the cultures and practices independent of the speaker's subject position, such as Italian operatic performance and Catholic rituals. Structures meant to stabilize and connect--musical/operatic sequence, architectural foundations, port cities/harbors, marriage and romantic relationship practices--are troubled through sequential breaks, fragmented memories, and unexpected turns. These subjects--the trade ports, operas, family members, intimate partners--become falsified constructs through the speaker's explorations. The subjects resonate merely as concepts, idealized structures that ultimately cannot be reached through language. Reason fails to account for irrational elements beyond understanding. What can be realized and sustained, however, is longing itself; the longing and continuous pursuit for the beauty and resolutions that art and intertextuality might provide; the desire for language, music, and interpersonal relationships to reach an ideal place beyond fragmented reality, regardless of this impossibility.