Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

Folk Studies and Anthropology

Document Type



Since the 19th century, many critics and scholars, both of music and the visual arts, have debated about the place of Claude Debussy’s oeuvre in relation to the visual arts movements that developed during his career. Attempts have been made in the literature to label Debussy as Impressionist, as Neo-Impressionist, or as Symbolist, each given exclusive ownership of his music by the author, leading one to ask: Why have scholars and critics been so adamant about defining Debussy and his work, especially along the lines of these visual movements?

The purpose of this research is to examine Debussy’s relationships to these movements and to identify ways in which the ideals and the people of these movements may have influenced his music. Through a visual analysis of specific works by Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, and Odilon Redon and a musical analysis of selected art songs across Debussy’s oeuvre, one sees that these attempts by scholars and critics to label Debussy and his works fall short of fully characterizing him as an artist. Rather, Debussy is better viewed as an artist who resisted such labels and blurred the boundaries between art and music.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Ingrid Cartwright


American Art and Architecture | Arts and Humanities | Other Music