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This dissertation argues that contemporary Korean–American poems dialogically represent the voices of Korean immigrants or Korean adoptees, whereas Mikhail Bakhtin considers poetry as a monologic or exclusionary genre. Reading them through the lens of dialogic imagination enables a better understanding of their poetic texts because, unlike Bakhtin’s antipoetic view, Korean–American poets discussed in this dissertation attempt to come into dialogic contact with the entire society surrounding them. Being situated in between, they necessarily experience two different languages, histories, cultures, and countries in the United States. As U.S. citizens or settlers, they learn American language, history, culture at school but cannot completely turn their back on the awareness of inherited Koreanness. For Bakhtin, the poetic genre is a unified discourse governed by the poet’s singular and unitary voice and excludes other’s voices. But the unity of a single consciousness cannot fully express the complex and multifaceted lives of Korean–American poets because their flexible consciousness lies and lives on the borderline between Korea and the United States. Assuming that Bakhtin’s understanding of poetry should be supplemented with a dialogic view of poetic interaction with other voices, therefore, this dissertation focuses on how their poems represent the dialogic fabric of their lives rather than conceives of poetry as a monologue and also examines how their poems describe the dialogic encounters of two languages, histories, cultures and countries. Engaging in conversation with both sides, their existence begins to live and to take shape. At the point of dialogic contact between them, the poetic form strays out of a single self–enclosed consciousness, is heard and answered by another interlocutor, and responds. In this way, two different languages, cultures, histories and countries dialogically meet, interrupt each other, and sound differently at various dialogic angles instead of defeating the other or merging into one unified totality.



Dialogism, Korean-American Poems