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Recreating Exile: Multimedia as Effecting Reader Destabilization in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE

Journal: International Journal of English, Literature and Social Science (Vol.7, No. 4)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 330-336

Keywords : multimedia literature; exile; destabilization; DICTEE; Theresa Hak Kyung Cha;

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Korean-American writer, filmmaker, and performance artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's DICTEE, first published in 1982, is an avant-garde, multimedia work. Its key themes are exile and dislocation, primarily that of the Korean diaspora as its members navigate (post)colonial violence and trauma. This paper explores Cha's usage of diverse and unconventional mediums — namely, uncaptioned images, fragmented prose, and letters, and how they contribute to the work's exile effect. DICTEE, through its intentional lack of context, simulates an exile from familiarity. The symbolic erasure forces the reader to experience and understand the discomfort of those who are exiled from their homeland. The reader is faced with a choice: one can give up on trying to understand the text due to their discomfort with foreign language and references, or one can grapple with the exile effect and emerge from DICTEE having a greater understanding of the painful feeling of exile and capacity to empathize with those who experience it physically in their lives. Though Cha's approach may perhaps be viewed as counterintuitive to the purpose of writing as dissemination of ideas to the mainstream, she is more interested in the maximum potential of a textual work to impact the reader. Readers who explore their discomfort rather than turn from it embrace the position of the exiled and shed light on what Cha obscures and evokes

Last modified: 2022-09-08 14:40:08