From Ethnography Matters,a piece by Jan-H. Passoth and Nicholas J. Rowland, What Would Wallace Write? (if he were an ethnographer):
[...]Comparing David Foster Wallace and an average ethnographic field report seems unfair at first. And, it does not get better if you try that second time or a third time, and at any point after that. The writing of a genius wordsmith and the report of a serious scholar; how could they be comparable in any meaningful way? But because this series of blog-posts is exactly about fiction and ethnography, we will try to answer our own question, nevertheless, and, if we are lucky, harvest a few insights from creative writing to improve our academic writing. Not being literary experts, but scholars – and free time readers of David Foster Wallace´s works – we are neither willing nor able to deliver an exegesis on Wallace’s work or hazard any reconstruction of his style, inter-textual analysis, and surely we won’t – we cannot – document all the pop-cultural linkages Wallace employed in his work. But there is something that we can offer; when we read his dense, immersive prose, we cannot help but thinking that it sounds like ethnography … really, really good ethnography.
This got me thinking about Another Pioneer from the Oblivion collection. (Thinking because I've been reading Greg Carlisle's treat of a book about the collection too... more on that later). I asked a question over at Ethnography Matters [currently awaiting moderation]:
"Any thoughts about Wallace’s ‘Another Pioneer’ short story in his Oblivion collection? There’s so much else that the story is about – i.e. it’s place in a collection about oblivion and narrative distance – but could it also be a response to ethnographic issues? [Just throwing this out for discussion. I don't have enough background in ethnography to really comment, it was just the first thing I though of.]"
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