Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Music



First Advisor

Jay D. Watson

Second Advisor

Ian Whittington

Third Advisor

Cristin Ellis

Relational Format



Military officers and psychologists have argued that the human experience of killing in combat is directly related to physical proximity between combatants. With the advent of remote controlled weapons and advanced optics, that argument has proven untrue. This thesis, through analysis of contemporary war literature and film, proposes that a better paradigm for understanding and anticipating the human experience of killing in combat is the view the soldier maintains of him/herself and of the other as similarly human. The contemporary soldier may view both the enemy and him/herself as human, subhuman, or inhuman; this view is closely tied to constructed narratives. Unfortunately, the contemporary warrior narrative encourages a dehumanization of the enemy and the "numbing" of the soldier, simultaneously hindering the soldier's ability to process traumatic experiences in war and opening the door to unethical action. Today, technologies greatly influence the soldier's perception of the enemy and are commonly the mediums through which the enemy is encountered, but the technologies are ambivalent to the soldier's mindset and experience. This thesis argues that soldiers must be intentional about the narratives they construct in order to see both themselves and the enemy as similarly human. This approach, while acknowledging that war will always be traumatic, encourages an ethical and moral execution of war and simultaneously aims to limit moral injury inflicted by a "betrayal of what's right" or "soul wound."


Emphasis: Music Education



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