This thesis examines Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE (1982), Audience Distant Relative (1977) and Reveillé dans la Brume (Awakened in the Mist) (1977). The premise of the thesis is an exploration of the various ways in which these works both
perform and gesture toward the possibility of a ‘utopian’ experience of nonalienation. In Cha’s vocabulary, this takes the form of ‘interfusion’ and is related to the role of the artist as alchemist. Cha employs formal and linguistic innovations in her text, mail art and performance works to invite active participation from her readers and audience in a gesture toward embodied intersubjectivity. Her grappling with the challenges relating to the articulation of subjectivity place her work at the centre of contemporary critical debates around subjectivity and innovative poetics. In particular, recent scholarship on race and the poetic avant-garde has called for cross-disciplinary approaches to reading DICTEE as a text that explores the intersections of subjectivity and its performance in contemporary innovative poetics. Developing a theory of Utopian Poetics from my reading of Ernst Bloch’s utopian philosophy, I explore the ways in which DICTEE and Cha’s other works perform a yearning for non-alienated subjectivity that remains necessarily open and incomplete.
My reading of DICTEE, in particular, is primarily informed by my own practices of yoga and meditation, and these practices form the basis of both my scholarly and creative engagements with this research. This scholarly thesis comprises Part 1 of a two-part submission. Part 2 comprises my own creative experiments with UtopianPoetics.