Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Cha.
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.jpg
Born (1951-03-04)March 4, 1951
Busan, South Korea
Died November 5, 1982(1982-11-05) (aged 31)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Author
Language English
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley (MFA)
Notable works Dictee (1982)
Spouse Richard Barnes
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
Hangul 차학경
Hanja 車學慶
Revised Romanization Cha Hak-gyeong
McCune–Reischauer Ch'a Hak-kyŏng

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (March 4, 1951 — November 5, 1982) was a South Korean-born American novelist and artist, best known for her 1982 novel, Dictee.

Early life and career[edit]

Cha, a Korean American, was born in Pusan, South Korea during the Korean War. Her family eventually moved to the United States in 1962, settling down in Hawaii. Cha's family eventually relocated to California, where she attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco. At the convent she started her education in Western classic and language. She also studied French, Greek, and Roman classics. During her time at Sacred Heart, she sang in the choir. Is suspected that her time at Sacred Heart would inspire the writing of Dictee.

Cha began her education at the University of California, Berkeley where she completed her studies as an artist and a writer. As an undergraduate student she studied comparative literature between 1969 and 1973. Cha's enjoyed reading, reading anything from Korean poetry to European modernist and postmodern literature. Cha received her B.A. and M.A. in Comparative Literature and an MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. She worked as a student employee of the Pacific Film Archive for three years.[1] After leaving university, she moved to Paris, France, where she studied filmmaking and critical theory before returning to the Bay Area as a filmmaker and performance artist. Cha's interdisciplinary background is clearly evident in Dictee which experiments with juxtaposition and hypertext of both print and visual media. Cha's "Dictee" is taught in contemporary literature classes.[2]

Cha began her career as a performance artist, producer, director, and writer in 1974.

Cha was raped and killed by security guard and serial rapist Joey Sanza in New York City, New York, just a week after the publication of Dictee.[3] Sanza was convicted after five years and three trials. Shortly before her death, she was working on an artistic piece for a group show at Artists Space in SoHo.[4] The Artists Space exhibit later became a memorial for Cha after her death.

Published works[edit]

Film/video works[edit]

Selected works distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix, Inc., New York [1]

  • Secret Spill (1974) 27 min., b&w, sound
  • Mouth to Mouth (1975) 8 min., b&w, sound
  • Permutations (1976) 10 min., b&w, sound
  • Vidéoème (1976) 3 min., b&w, sound
  • Re Dis Appearing (1977) 3 min., b&w, sound


  • Barren Cave Mute (1974), at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Aveugle Voix (1975), at 63 Bluxome Street, San Francisco.
  • A Ble Wail (1975), at Worth Ryder Gallery, University of California, Berkeley.
  • Life Mixing (1975), at University Art Museum, Berkeley.
  • From Vampyr (1976), at Centre des etudes americains du cinema, Paris, inspired by the film Vampyr
  • Reveille dans la Brume (1977), at La Mamelle Arts Center and Fort Mason Arts Center, San Francisco.
  • Monologue (1977), KPFA Radio Station, Berkeley.
  • Other Things Seen. Other Things Heard (1978), at Western Front Gallery, Vancouver, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
  • Pause Still (1979), 80 Langton Street, San Francisco.


  1. ^ Lewallen, Constance (2001). The Dream of the Audience: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982). Essays by Lawrence R. Rinder & Trinh T. Minh-ha, Director's Foreword by Kevin Consey. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. ix. ISBN 0-520-23287-9. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Tributes & Obituaries: Theresa Cha, Keith Haring & Barbara Lehmann". "Homicide, Homelessness & Winged Pigs". Village Voice. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  4. ^

External links[edit]