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David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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The Scholarly Side of Marginalia

Max Lee's, Analyzing Margins, In Error for The Wesleyan Argus, considers the marginalia present in some of David Foster Wallace's collection at The Harry Ransom Center (via the research of Mike Miley, Reading Wallace Reading):

The satisfaction in reading Wallace’s marginalia has less to do with wanting to gain insights about his writing than it does with wanting to see something marked “DW,” something intended as private that has been distorted for public display. Reading is, after all, a private act, taking place away from other people. Even if something is read in public, the print is hidden from the view of everyone but the reader.


This is not to say that there is no value in researching marginalia. As the Harvard proposal states, marginalia can be of benefit to historians analyzing cultural phenomena. By comparing how people have written in books in the past to how they write in them now—what instruments (pencils or pens) they use, what they write about—marginalia can say a great deal about our past and our present. These analyses, though, only provide information because they are rooted in broad phenomena, in how entire cultures function.

Continue reading, Analyzing Margins, In Error.



The Short Things - The Short Fiction of DFW

And another Wallace related conference! The Short Things - The Short Fiction of David Foster Wallace is to be held on July 8th 2015 at The University of Bristol, UK.

Over to conference organiser Peter Sloane:

Dear DFW fans,

The University of Bristol, UK, is delighted to announce the upcoming one-day conference ‘David Foster Wallace and the Short Things’, to be held on July 8th 2015. The day will be devoted to finding new readings of Wallace’s short fiction, as well as to more general considerations, including Wallace’s use of short fiction as a teaching tool, as a way to discuss contemporary fiction more widely, and also the influence of Wallace’s own short works on his contemporaries and successors. The Keynote will be given by Dr Stephen J. Burn - author of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, A Reader’s Guide (2003), editor of Conversations with David Foster Wallace (2012), and co-editor of A Companion to David Foster Wallace Studies (2013) - whose paper is sure to offer new approaches and interpretations of a body of work that tends, for perfectly legitimate reasons, to be seen largely as constituting a continued interrogation of postmodernism, minimalism, self-consciousness, solipsism, and empathy, among other comparable trends. ‘David Foster Wallace and the Short Things’ hopes to offer a new set of interpretative parameters.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Peter Sloane (

Website: The Short Things - The Short Fiction of DFW

More about the conference here.

Call for Papers - Deadline for abstracts 1st April 2015

Last Updated on Monday, 23 February 2015 20:33

Symposium - DFW and the Ethics of Writing

This event looks great. So many fantastic guest speakers!

Via NYU:

Symposium on David Foster Wallace and the Ethics of Writing:

On April 2, the work of celebrated fiction writer and essayist David Foster Wallace will be the focus of a day-long interdisciplinary symposium to be held at Gallatin. Co-sponsored by the Gallatin Writing Program and the NYU Creative Writing Program, the event is organized by Gallatin professors Gregory Erickson and Scott Korb. “I’ve taught Wallace's writing my entire career,” says Korb, “and more profound even than his inimitable style and the breadth of his imagination, is the call he makes on my students—on all of us—to live better lives. I'm thrilled to be part of a symposium dedicated to exploring how, and why, he does this.”

Bringing together scholars, authors, students, and actors, the symposium will explore the ethical and moral side of writing through the work of Wallace, covering topics including race, religion, and the ethics of biographical writing. Symposium participants include New Yorker writer Maria Bustillos (Dorkismo: The Macho of the Dork as well as The Awl, The New Yorker and more - Nick), Samuel Cohen (The Legacy of David Foster Wallace), Paul Elie (Reinventing Bach), D.T. Max (Every Love Story is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace), David Lipsky (Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace), editor Matthew Sitman, and Kevin Timpe (Free Will). The culminating event will be a performance of Daniel Fish’s “A (radically condensed and expanded) Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.

A full schedule of events is available. The symposium will be held on April 2, 2015 from 3 to 8 pm and is free and open to the public. RSVPs will be accepted through the event link.


Last Updated on Monday, 23 February 2015 20:19

DFW 2015 at ISU - CFP Deadline March 8

The paper submissions deadline for DFW 2015 at Illinois State University is Sunday March 8, 2015.

DFW 2015 ISU Website

DFW 2015 Facebook page

Call for Papers and Presentations of Original Work



Last Updated on Monday, 23 February 2015 20:02

London DFW Colloquium Today

Supposedly Fun Things - A Colloquium on the Writing of David Foster Wallace runs all day today (Saturday 7th of Feb) at Keynes Library, Birkbeck, University of London

Anyone going? Looks like there'll be some excellent papers presented by some well known and new names to Wallace studies.

I'll be following the twitter hashtag #funthingsbbk

(Schedule below via one of the organisers, Tony Venezia)


Supposedly Fun Things
A Colloquium on the Writing of David Foster Wallace

Saturday 7th February, 10am-6pm
Keynes Library, Birkbeck, University of London
Respondent: Professor Geoff Ward (Homerton College, Cambridge)
Twitter: #funthingsbbk

10-10.20am: Registration
10.20-10.30: Welcome

10.30-11.30: Panel 1 – Reception
Tony Venezia
DFW Online
Matthew Sangster
‘To make someone an icon is to make them an abstraction’: The Multiple Afterlives of David Foster Wallace
Emma Southon

11.30-12pm: Coffee break

12-1: Panel 2 – Ethics and Aesthetics
Ethical Labyrinths: Towards a Levinasian Reading of Wallace
Erin Reilly
Preferential Consideration: David Foster Wallace, Melville and Behaviourism
Martin Paul Eve
The Male Gaze and Infinite Jest’s Theatres of Cruelty
Edward Jackson

1-2: Lunch

2-3: Panel 3 – Language
‘I kept saying her name’: Naming, Labels and Power in David Foster Wallace.
Clare Hayes-Brady
‘They all sound like David Foster Wallace’: Syntax and Narrative in Infinite Jest, Oblivion and The Pale King
Simon de Bourcier
‘Chilled. Fizzed. Sometimes things went worse with Coca-Cola’: The Representation of an American Icon in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road
Xavier Marcó del Pont

3-3.30: Coffee break

3.30-4.30: Panel 4 – Politics
Sadomasochistic Whiteness in Signifying Rappers
Joel Roberts
The Wallacean Woman: Or, Further Stories about Struggling with Girls in an Ironic Age
Dan Mattingly
David Foster Wallace and the ‘Third Way’
Iain Williams

4.30-4.45: Break

4.45-5.30: Response from Professor Geoff Ward and Q&A

(If you have an account you can grab the full programme with abstracts and bios here:




Bill Lattanzi's Walking Tour of Infinite Jest

Great piece over at the Los Angeles Review of Books by Boston writer and filmmaker, Bill Lattanzi (he's also working on a film about the work of David Foster Wallace) about his Infinite Jest walking tour, Messing with Maps: Walking David Foster Wallace’s Boston:

I started searching out the sites of Infinite Jest shortly after Wallace died by suicide in 2008. Like a lot of Wallace fans, I didn’t quite know how to work through my feelings, and exploring the geography of the novel seemed like something I could do. Since then, I’ve given a few tours to interested parties, including friends and fans and radio people and students of mine, as well as Adam Kelly’s class from Harvard [Previously, The Map and the Territory], all of us to different degrees captivated by Wallace and wanting to get closer, to better understand him, to walk where he walked in some sort of strange, secular haj.

It’s weird. Wallace only lived here for three years, but you might think he was an Allston-Brighton lifer from all the geographic shout-outs in Infinite Jest. Hospitals, businesses, streets, schools, parks, tourist attractions, T stops, and signage all but crowd out the characters that move among them, each spot located with GPS-like precision. Maybe he was aping James Joyce, who hoped Ulysses could be used to reconstruct Dublin were it ever destroyed. But walking a couple of miles in Wallace’s footsteps makes Infinite Jest start to look more like a fragmented, compressed, and rebuilt version of every experience, thought, and feeling he had here, every one of them registered deeply in the writer’s part of his skull, transformed, slotted into a newly created imaginary space, and put to use.

Continue reading here.




Atlantic Advice - Don't Try to Write Like DFW

Okay, I won't.

Spencer Kornhaber reflects on past experiences for The Atlantic in, Advice: Don't Try to Write Like David Foster Wallace:

“DFW” is David Foster Wallace, and I feel okay laughing like Ryan Gosling at people who try to write like the Infinite Jest author because it wasn’t long ago that I was one of them. (Sometimes, as when inserting a comically self-scrutinizing and ostentatiously detailed parenthetical, I become one again.)

When I was 17, my aunt got me a subscription to The Atlantic, and the first issue to arrive was the one whose cover featured Wallace’s profile of conservative Los Angeles talk-radio host John Ziegler. The piece exploded my little high-school-newspaper editor brain. Here was journalism’s potential not only as literature, but as form-breaking, highly entertaining art.

Continue reading the article here.


Re: David Foster Wallace's Host I just remembered Marie Mundaca's piece over at Hipster Book Club (now gone?), The Influence of Anxiety: Wading In, about her involvement in the book design of some of Wallace's publications for Little Brown including Consider the Lobster and thus, Host:


Consider the Lobster was a little different. Most of the book was very typical, but there was one particular essay called "Host" that required some special treatment. Wallace, infamous for his footnotes and endnotes, wanted to try something a little different with "Host." He wanted to stress the immediacy of communication and the speed of thought that occurred in the studio where the talk radio DJ John Ziegler worked. The Atlantic Monthly had already run a version of this essay and did a spectacular design job, using a format with color-coded callouts, as if someone had highlighted a script and made note in the margins. However, there are intrinsic differences between a magazine and a book. The Atlantic Monthly used color; we were not going to do that. Magazines are usually 8-1/2 x 11, and we were 6 x 9. We had to figure out a way to do this essay.

A page from David Foster Wallace's essay "Host" in Consider the Lobster.Wallace's idea was to have leaders and labels, like a diagram. He wanted something that looked like hypertext rollovers that were immediate and at hand. I thought this whole thing might be a bit much for me to design. It seemed like it might be a full-time job. I sent it off to one of my favorite designers, who shot me an email back saying something along the lines of "There is not enough money in the world to make me do this."

So I did it. Had I realized at the time that this job would entail my spending close to an hour every few weeks talking to my favorite author ever on the phone, I would have never considered giving it to anyone else. Mostly we just went over changes that needed to be made, but initially we had some very intense discussions regarding the semiotics of the leaders (the lines going from the text to the boxes) and the tics and the line width of the boxes and the ampersands. He'd leave me voice mail messages at work in the middle of the night, telling me what time I should call him the next day. One time when I called, I got his answering machine, but when I began to leave a message, he picked up. "I heard your mellifluous voice," he said. Sometimes I'd hear the dog barking in the background. He was recently married, and he obviously relished saying "my wife" when he would tell me about upcoming plans and where I could find him if I needed him.


Continue reading Marie Mundaca's piece here.


Last Updated on Saturday, 07 February 2015 14:36

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