The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Symposium This Week - DFW and the Ethics of Writing

This Thursday, April 2nd. 3pm - 9pm, David Foster Wallace and the Ethics of Writing

Anyone attending?

This interdisciplinary symposium, organized by Gallatin professors Gregory Erickson and Scott Korb, brings together scholars, authors, students, and actors to explore the ethical and moral side of writing through the work of David Foster Wallace. Comprising five events, diverse in format and approach, the symposium will engage topics including Wallace and religion, Wallace and race, and the ethics of biographical writing. The final event will be an excerpt from director Daniel Fish’s acclaimed theater piece based on audio recordings of Wallace, to be performed by Mary Rasmussen and Jenny Seastone. Participants include Maria Bustillos (Dorkismo: The Macho of the Dork as well as The AwlThe 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).

This event is hosted by New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the Gallatin Writing Program, with co-sponsorship from NYU’s Creative Writing Program.

Schedule of Events and RSVP here.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 March 2015 23:16

Due in April - Freedom and the Self

This looks interesting! Due in April, a new collection about the philosophy of David Foster Wallace Edited by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert (editor of Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will)

"The book Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will, published in 2010 by Columbia University Press, presented David Foster Wallace's challenge to Richard Taylor's argument for fatalism. In this anthology, notable philosophers engage directly with that work and assess Wallace's reply to Taylor as well as other aspects of Wallace's thought.
With an introduction by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, this collection includes essays by William Hasker (Huntington University), Gila Sher (University of California, San Diego), Marcello Oreste Fiocco (University of California, Irvine), Daniel R. Kelly (Purdue University), Nathan Ballantyne (Fordham University), Justin Tosi (University of Arizona), and Maureen Eckert. These thinkers explore Wallace's philosophical and literary work, illustrating remarkable ways in which his philosophical views influenced and were influenced by themes developed in his other writings, both fictional and nonfictional. Together with Fate, Time, and Language, this critical set unlocks key components of Wallace's work and its traces in modern literature and thought." via Columbia University Press.

Pre-order now: Freedom and the Self: Essays on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace Edited by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert.

Columbia University Press site here.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 March 2015 14:33

The End of the Tour - Limited Release July 31

Old-ish news now (I've taken a bit of a long needed break from the site, I'm back now) but exciting for US Wallace enthusiasts, James Ponsoldt's The End of the Tour will open in limited release from July 31. I wonder what the international release schedule is?

In related news, Emma Bailey over at Varsity writes, Disturbing the Past: The Legacy of David Foster Wallace: The forthcoming film End of the Tour has put David Foster Wallace back in the spotlight, but is that a good thing?


His estate has also voiced serious disapproval over the adaptation. In a statement, they expressed their discontent over their loved one's memory being "capitalized upon”. The David Foster Wallace Literary Trust and Wallace’s family have both said that they want the late author to be remembered for his extraordinary writing gifts, and would rather bequeath his story to artists who will vigilantly guard the ideals he upheld during his lifetime.

Both the director and producer of The End of the Tour have stated that their intent with the film was to stimulate the minds of viewers and increase Wallace's reach. In that sense, the film has succeeded. The publicity surround the picture has renewed discussions surrounding his work, possibly provoking interest from those who were previously unaware of his ideas. These viewers will have the opportunity to see a side of the man whose words were brutal and honest, but often the perfect remedy for reality.


Continue reading Disturbing the Past: The Legacy of David Foster Wallace.



Supposedly Fun Things Colloquium Review

Iain Williams has put together a review of 'Supposedly Fun Things: A Colloquium on the Writing of David Foster Wallace' held at Birkbeck, University of London [see previous update]:

Although the panels were each only an hour long, leaving little time for questions after papers had been given, the colloquium proved a stimulating forum for the continuation of Wallace Studies. The papers were of a consistently high standard, and the notable proliferation of scholars willing to resist or question existing critical and theoretical positions on Wallace points to promising new arenas for academic debate. Particularly, in relation to class, gender, and race. Extending my own paper’s emphasis on dialectics within Wallace’s work, the colloquium may have provided the first concerted evidence of a second wave of antithetical Wallace scholarship, suggesting that exciting times lie ahead for the fledgling discipline. Indeed, there may develop something of a split in Wallace Studies, with those who buy into Wallace’s self-professed attempts to write ethically and morally on one hand, and scholars that challenge Wallace’s politics of representation and his representation of politics, on the other. Future Wallace scholars may look back at this colloquium as the event at which the critical horizons of Wallace Studies were expanded.

I followed as much of the day's events as I could from here in Australia via twitter (which you can kind of do yourself here via Tony Venezia's Storify feed of the event).

I'm interested greatly in the papers presented in the first panel, mostly because I understand places like Wallace-l and this site were mentioned in the paper, but Iain William's review seems to focus on some of the other places Wallace fans also gather online. I'm not sure the review paints the full picture presented across the panel.

The final paragraph of the review (quoted above) seems to suggest this Wallace Studies thing is so new that it is only just maturing... I don't think that's the case. The Conferences and Critical Analysis articles I've posted here over the years tend to suggest otherwise.

I just hope the breadth and depth of the conversation doesn't end any time soon!

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 March 2015 14:54

Racist humor in The Pale King?

In the Antiracist Book Club section of her blog, Cathy Jacobowitz considers some of the more questionable content of Wallace's work in her post, Racist humor in The Pale King:

Much of Wallace’s humor resides in this kind of grossness. Often the gross stuff pays off; sometimes, especially when his cockeyed humor depends on racism, it doesn’t. A cringe-worthy example is the longish set piece involving a “visibly ethnic” woman who greets the character David Wallace at the Peoria REC (which I think stands for Rote Examination Center, but I’m really not sure). There’s another new hire named David Wallace, of much higher status, and our David has been mistaken for him. “Ms. F. Chahla Neti-Neti (according to her ID badge)” might be considered a nod to “diversity” among the book’s mostly white personnel, were she not treated like an object and a punchline. We find out that her nickname is “the Iranian Crisis,” and she ends up in a closet giving David “a rapid, almost woodpeckerishly intensive round of fellatio.”

Continue reading Racist humor in The Pale King.

This is certainly an aspect of Wallace's writing that in the past hasn't been looked at as closely as other elements of his writing (and is being looked at more critically in some areas of Wallace studies). While there is certainly some merit to the counter argument that some of the more controversial views in his writing are those of Wallace's characters, not his own, this is an area that is being increasingly investigated and discussed in the field of Wallace studies.


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 21:33

The Howling Fantods