Transpacific Poetics in the Works of Sijong Kim, Inhwan Pak, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
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This dissertation examines transpacific poetics through three important literary figures: Sijong Kim (キム・シジョン, 1929-), a representative Zainichi Korean writer; Inhwan Pak (박인환, 1926-1956), a Korean poet who was deeply concerned with postcolonial Asian solidarity in the 1940s and left poems and essays on his travels along the West coast of the U.S. in the 1950s; and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982), a highly-respected Korean-American artist. Their subjectivity has been constructed on the borders of multiple nation-states. Specifically, their literary works were produced along the Pacific coast, crossed the ocean, and reached the opposite shores. The cultural-historical context of their transpacific multilingual literary works goes far beyond the Korean national border and encompasses a broad area along the Pacific Rim. The most prominent feature of transpacific poetics is “minor writing.” Minor writing includes deterritorialization of major languages, multilingualism, denial of conventional genres, negation of mother tongue, constructing literary montage by various images, text, and quotation without quotation marks. In doing so, transpacific poetics continually problematizes imposed hierarchies embedded in language. Asia-Pacific is imagined in the works of the three writers in similar ways: the region is viewed as a space of exile, migration, repatriation, and resistance against imperialism. Transpacific poetics pays great attention to the historical scars which are inscribed in the Asia-Pacific area. In transpacific poetics, the Pacific is a textual space of untold stories, numerous deaths, European imperialism and American involvement in Asia, and transpacific international relations. As a result, transpacific poetics represent a myriad of forgotten or underrepresented stories and constructs “counter-memory” and “counter-history.” A transpacific subject is located in liminal space. The subject is alienated from both ends of the Pacific. This sense of alienation yields melancholy and fragmented self-understanding. Also, this liminality is frequently expressed in the contrapuntal structure of transnationalism and the rediscovering of the locality. However, liminality is the seedbeds of cultural creativity. The sense of the liminal as an interstitial or in-between space opens up the possibility of cultural creativity. A transpacific subject presents their literary works as a liminal space of contestation and change.