Impossible to Write Alone: Expanded I and Absent Addressee in Chris Kraus's I Love Dick

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Virginia Tech


Although Chris Kraus's I Love Dick has been largely read as autofictional or autotheoretical, I argue that its formal characteristics and innovations can be better understood by looking at seventeenth- and eighteenth-century precedents in the amatory epistolary genre. By examining the formal constraints that belong to the epistolary medium Kraus employed—requirements such as the "I" of the writer, the "you" of the receiver, and a desire for exchange—I show how she deploys epistolary tropes such as the woman in love as natural writer of letters, and the assumed truthful nature of such letters. These epistolary affordances and the ways in which I Love Dick uses and in part revises them allow Kraus to blur the line between reality and fiction, but more importantly allow her to achieve an expansion of the "I" of the writer through what I call her stalking method of writing. It is precisely in the process of writing and in the concomitant minimizing and objectifying of the "you" of the receiver that the expansion of the "I" occurs.



Absent Addressee, Chris Kraus, Epistolary Novel, Case Study, Letters, Stalking