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Contemporary Experimental Narratives
ENGL 146EN - Fall 2003,  Rita Raley
Tue, 10/7 Memory, Montage, & Narration

Critical commentary on Dictee

"the formal construction of the book is itself a contact zone. It is part autobiography, part biography, part personal diary, part ethnography, part autoethnography, part translation. And all these genres are presented with an intertextual mix of photographs, quotations, translations, and language so as to make a history...But this history is collage history. Collage is a form where the works collected are marked as foreign, detached from their context. The cuts and sutures of collection, left visible and unmixed, work against wholes and unities."
"Cha instead composes the bulk of Dictee in a language that is always drawing the reader's attention to its diversions, to its mechanisms and structures....These diversions challenge readers to activate their resourcefulness, to become on their own linguists or translators. Dictee openly attacks one of the major assumptions of reading: that the text is written so as to be linguistically and culturally transparent to the reader without recourse to other systems of knowledge. The disruptive moments of untranslated or nonstandardized second language usage serve as subtle, temporal shocks that jolt the reader out of absorptive reading practices."
- Juliana M. Spahr, "Postmodernism, readers, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's 'Dictee,'" College Literature 23:3 (October 1996): 5

Dictee is replete with verbal and visual signs of the body: Western and Chinese medical diagrams; accounts of political acts of bodily self-sacrifice; narratives of physical illness and healing; and detailed examples of the materiality of speech and writing. This recourse to the corporeal suggests that text and image are tools to render the body intelligible-legible....Collage composition in Dictee parallels the tradition of what Johanna Drucker calls the 'material word' in avant-garde poetics. Cha understands that 'writing's visual forms possess an irresolvably dual identity in their material existence as images and their function as elements of language'."
- Elisabeth A. Frost, "In Another Tongue: Body, Image, Text in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee, We Who Love to Be Astonished: Experimental Women's Writing and Performance Poetics (U. Alabama Press, 2002): 182


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