"Dictee" is the best-known work of the artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982). A work of autobiography that transcends the self, "Dictee" is the story of several women: the Korean revolutionary Yu Guan Soon, Joan of Arc, Demeter and Persephone, Cha's mother Hyung Soon Huo (a Korean born in Manchuria to first-generation Korean exiles), and Cha herself. The element that unites these women is suffering and the transcendence of suffering. The book is divided into nine parts structured around the Greek Muses. Cha deploys a variety of texts, documents, images, and forms of address and inquiry to explore issues of dislocation and the fragmentation of memory.
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha was born in 1951 in Pusan, Korea, and grew up in Korea, Hawail, and Northern California. She received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and did postgraduate work in Paris. Her studies in literature, theory, performance art, and filmmaking influenced her varied output as an artist. In 1982, Cha was murdered by a stranger in New York City, just a few days after the original publication of Dictee.