Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Admin Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Mollusca, a short story collection, traces the life story of Korean American protagonist and translator Carter Chen as she develops a consciousness of how she fits into the world. The stories echo and reveal a long aftermath of her parents’ departure from their native Korea. Carter, often told she does not fit into Korean culture, finds herself as “other” in her family and marriage. Per Gayatri Spivak’s description of translation as the “most intimate act of reading,” Carter reads to translate and narrate scenes from her own culture and life. In a self-defining act, Carter borrows the image of a mollusk – a creature split between shell and flesh – from her translation of poems by contemporary Korean poet Moon Chung-hee, to frame an ambivalence to her body. Throughout Mollusca, Carter’s broader acts of translation, such as trying to understand Korean culture vis-à-vis her relationships with her ex-spouse and parents, are fashioned as an awareness, shell or language document to signal the process of a body holding to account its experience and history. Mollusca amounts to a coming of age and consciousness chronicle that posits translation as a creative and vital writing practice.