Mother Tongues: Between Translation

Saturday, May 7, 2022, 3–5pm

About the seminar

This is an online seminar that will take place on Zoom.

Date: Saturday, May 7, 2022
Time: 3-5 pm EST (2 hours)
Capacity: 30 participants
Cost: Free
Register here.

Mother, my first sound. The first utter. The first concept.

—Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee


“Mother Tongues” examines the function of linguistic, cross-cultural, and intermedia translation in Dictee and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s larger body of work. We will engage in close readings to examine Cha’s poetic deconstructions of language, filmic writing, and the neocolonial geopolitics of Korea. Together, we will reflect on the role of translation in contemporary literature, community organizing, race, and authorship. This seminar will consider speech as it travels between mouths, nation states, mediums, and scripts, proliferating beyond borders.

This seminar is led by Laura Hyun Yi Kang, Youna Kwak, and Sujin Lee, and includes opening reflections by guests, followed by a group discussion and writing exercise. Suggested readings will be shared in advance.

About the speakers

Laura Hyun Yi Kang is Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Traffic in Asian Women (2020) and Compositional Subjects: Enfiguring Asian/American Women (2002), both published by Duke University Press. She has edited the collections, Writing Away Here: A Korean/American Anthology (Korean American Arts Festival Committee, 1994) and, with Elaine H. Kim, Echoes Upon Echoes: New Korean American Writings (Asian American Writers Workshop, 2002). Her writing on Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE and video works have appeared in Writing Self, Writing Nation (1994), A Resource Guide to Asian American Literature (2001), and the Korean journal ART.

Youna Kwak is a poet, translator, and teacher based in Southern California. She is the author of a poetry collection, sur vie (Fathom Books, 2020) and two books of translation, Gardeners (Diálogos Press, 2017) and Daewoo: a novel (Diálogos Press, 2020).

Sujin Lee is an artist currently living and working in Seoul, South Korea. She works with language in text, moving image, and performance. Lee’s work has been presented at Arko Art Center, Kumho Art Museum, Cake Gallery, Wumin Art Center in South Korea, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Queens Museum, A.I.R. Gallery, Mandeville Gallery at Union College, NURTUREart, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Small Editions in New York, US, and the Sergey Kuryokhin Modern Art Center in Saint Petersburg, Russia, among others. She participated in artist residencies, including the Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Center, I-Park, Newark Museum, Zarya Center for Contemporary Art, and Artkommunalka. She is a recipient of the A.I.R. Gallery Fellowship (2012-2013), SeMA Emerging Artist & Curators Program grant (2016), and Wumin Art Award (2018).

Graphic design by Claire Zhang
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha: Untitled, from Father/Mother, c.1977; Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive


The Quick and the Dead is supported, in part, by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment from the Humanities, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 


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