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The martyred tongue: the legendaries of Prudentius and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

  • Irina Dumitrescu
Article

Abstract

This essay compares the treatments of language, suffering, and resistance in Prudentius’ Peristephanon and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, themes unified in the motif of the injured tongue. Both Prudentius and Cha craft fictionalized autobiographies by recounting stories of legendary martyrs, Christian in the Peristephanon, women in Dictee. In doing so, they explore the fallibility of historical records, reflect on the relationship between writing and torture, and meditate on muteness, linguistic signs, and the physical production of speech. A comparison with Prudentius sheds light on Cha’s innovative fusion of Christian hagiography and the classical tradition with meditations on Korean history and women’s bodies. At the same time, reading Prudentius through Cha reveals his strategy of undermining the authority of the pagan classics by using Latin with a Christian sense. Both authors insist on the potential of narrated trauma to transform subjection into power.

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irina Dumitrescu
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Anglistik, Amerikanistik und KeltologieRheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität BonnBonnGermany

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