Theses Doctoral

Creating with Ghosts: Identity and Artistic Purpose in Armenian Diaspora

Kouyoumdjian, Mary

The creative submission for my dissertation includes two of my documentary works: They Will Take My Island, a thirty-minute multimedia collaboration with filmmaker Atom Egoyan for amplified string octet, electronic track, and film, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Paper Pianos, a ninety-minute staged collaboration with director Nigel Maister and projection artist Kevork Mourad. The written submission for my dissertation is an examination of the ways in which experiences around transgenerational trauma inform and manifest in my creative practice. I offer a summary of my own family history of survivors of the Armenian Genocide and Lebanese Civil War, as well as a survey of displacement amongst the Armenian community in the past century. Furthermore, I discuss identity processing as diaspora and the act of cultural preservation, as inspired by genocide survivor, composer, priest, writer, and musicologist, Komitas Vardapet. I later examine these ideas in the context of creating They Will Take My Island and Paper Pianos, both of which were constructively motivated by transgenerational survivor’s guilt and draw from extra-musical documentary and horror genre practices.


  • thumnail for Kouyoumdjian_columbia_0054D_16677.pdf Kouyoumdjian_columbia_0054D_16677.pdf application/pdf 394 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Lewis, George E.
D.M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2021