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American Han

Koh, Eun Ji. American Han. 2023. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

This dissertation approaches arguments that appear in recent discourses on han. Han, an emotion commonly identified as a characteristic of a Korean national and personal ethos, is considered a passive form of Korean grief connected solely to the Korean peninsula. Nevertheless, I interrogate what new insights can be gained from a redefinition and reimagining of han in America. I define han as a gap, embodied and felt through lived experiences, as well as a framework for reading and understanding contemporary Korean American literature and art. I question what is possible for han as it crosses the Pacific and into the unshared, unread, and unheard spaces of America? Drawing upon a range of textual materials, interviews, and close readings, I revivify both the meaning and importance of han in the English language.

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