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Picturing IdentityContemporary American Autobiography in Image and Text$
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Hertha D. Sweet Wong

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640709

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640709.001.0001

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Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée

“A Series of Metaphors for the Return”

(p.144) Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée
Picturing Identity

Hertha D. Sweet Wong

University of North Carolina Press

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee is an experimental visual autobiography in which she thematizes her parents’ experience of the Japanese Occupation of Korea, their immigration to the United States, as well as her own sense of being in perpetual exile and grappling with the transgenerational trauma that threatens to overwhelm her. This chapter argues that Dictee’s cinematic style arises from Cha’s work in experimental film, correspondence art, and conceptual art. It depicts Cha as a disembodied female voice struggling to visualize embodied speech on the page, all the while offering a self-reflexive commentary on the autobiographical process and her struggle to find a suitable conclusion to her narrative of trauma. Finally, the chapter discusses Dictee’s serial conclusions and Cha’s endlessly deferred return. Rather than narrate a romantic, nostalgic return, Cha visually and textually performs its impossibility in the pages of Dictee

Keywords:   Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee, Japanese Occupation of Korea, Transgenerational Trauma, Visual Autobiography, Exile

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