DFW17 Panels and Schedule

Thursday Afternoon        3

12-1pm        3

Registration and Sandwiches        3

1-1:45pm        3

A1: Creative Writing, Fiction        3

A2: Derrida and DFW        3

2-2:45pm        4

B1: Sex and Isolation: IJ, Pale King, Good Old Neon        4

B2: Visual Representations of DFW        4

B3: Political Narratives: IJ and Contemporary Discourse        4

3-3:45pm        5

C1: Diversity Roundtable        5

C2: Autobiography and Criticism        5

C3: The Tangle of IJ: Eschaton and the 80's        5

Thursday Evening        6

4-6pm        6

ESCHATON        6

6-7pm        6

Dinner        6

Welcoming Remarks        6

7-8pm        6

DFW Society Board Meeting        6

8-10pm        6

Mingling        6

Friday Morning        6

8:30-9am        6

Coffee and Bagels        6

9-9:45am        6

D1: DFW and the Boundaries of Art: Oblivion, Good Old Neon, Infinite Jest        6

D2: Region, Culture, and DFW's Nonfiction        7

D3: Creative Writing        7

D4: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men        7

10-10:45am        8

E1: Linguistics, Style, and Translation        8

E2: Infinite Jest Portrayals of Addiction and Excess        8

E3: This is Water        8

E4: Living Art        9

11am-12pm        9

F1: Infinite Jest and Perception        9

F2: Philosophy Special Session: Interpersonal Ethics        9

F3: Feminism Special Session        10

Friday Midday        10

12-1pm        10

Lunch        10

1-2pm        11

Keynote: Jeffrey Severs        11

Friday Afternoon        11

2-3:30pm        11

G1: Politics Special Session: Nationalism and Political Deconstruction        11

G2: Empathy Special Session: Between You and Me: ‘Feeling Into’        12

G3: Creative Writing: (Dis)Ordered Chaos: Presenting the (Un)Speakable Human Condition        12

G4: Metatextual Infinite Jest        13

4-5:15pm        13

H1: Disability Studies Special Session: Mental Illness and "The Depressed Person"        13

H2: Infinite Jest: Shifting Culture, Things, and Technology        14

H3: Pedagogy: To Be Present and Human: The Pedagogy and Practice of Reading, Writing, and Thinking Outside the Margins        14

H4: Religion Special Session        15

Friday Evening        15

5:30-6:30pm        15

The Great Concavity Podcast        15

6:30-8pm        15

Dinner, Refreshments, and Banter        15

8-10pm        15

Mingling        15

Saturday Morning        15

8:30-9am        15

Coffee and Bagels        15

9-9:45am        16

I1: Aesthetics of Failure and "Iceberg" Plotting        16

I2: Inspiration for Pale King        16

I3: Creative Writing        16

10-10:45am        17

J1: DFW: Conveying the Mysterious, the Spiritual, the Postmodern        17

J2: Teaching Wallace's Prose        17

J3: Creative Writing        17

Saturday Wrap-up        18

11-12noon        18

Town Hall, Giveaways, and Wrap-Up        18

12noon-end        18

Bag Lunch and Wrap-up        18

1-3pm        18

End of the Tour - Free Showing!        18

3pm-Evening        18

Thursday Afternoon


Registration and Sandwiches

Stevenson 133

Session A


A1: Creative Writing, Fiction



Cynical Man Explains to His Son the Ways of the World

Inspired by a short scene in Wallace’s Infinite Jest, this flash fiction piece is written in the form of a monologue between a crudely blunt father and his young son that takes place in a Dairy Queen. In a voice reminiscent of the Incandenzas, the cynical father gives his four-year-old son insight about college, marriage, and life as a middle-aged washout.




In this story, "Dreamcatchers," a lonely, dying man's final days are redeemed by the influence of a troubled young woman he meets at a strip club (Yes, I know this sounds cliched!). As a hears her story, he loses interest in romantic relations with her, instead sympathizing with her addicted plight and doing the best to save her. Even though he fails at this task, this action of "silent heroism" (The Pale King) transforms his final days.

A2: Derrida and DFW



The Poststructuralist Broom of Wallace’s System: Lenore, Derrida, and Deleuze

In this paper I offer a reading of The Broom of the System that demonstrates – through an exposition of Derrida’s notion of différance and his notion of self, and Deleuze’s understanding of intensity – that the poststructuralist thinking that Wallace sometimes dismisses is necessary for his project of moving beyond the worst tendencies of postmodernism.



“Time is out of joint“ – Infinite Jest and the ghosts of the postmodern

The paper evaluates the ghosts encountered in Infinite Jest as well as the narration’s haunting elements, found in the structure of temporality, memory and virtuality. The goal is to contextualize the findings with theories of the postmodern proposing a new reading of Wallace’s novel as a piece of “hauntologic“ realism.

Session B


B1: Sex and Isolation: IJ, Pale King, Good Old Neon




For the 4th Annual David Foster Wallace Conference, I am presenting on the topic of sex in Infinite Jest. Building off of my theory that the novel has been drained of genuine femininity, unhealthy/dysfunctional sex then becomes another telltale dystopian element of the novel.



“a way out of the airless conundrum”: David Foster Wallace’s (Not-quite) Postsecularism

Wallace scholarship often fails to threat seriously the fundamentally mystical spirituality of Wallace’s texts. To reappraise this spirituality, we can deploy Amy Hungerford’s and John McClure’s explication of the postsecular, which both illuminates and is problematized by Wallace’s texts.

B2: Visual Representations of DFW



“Thanks everybody and I hope you like it”: Visual and Structural Aspects of Mario's ONANtiad Puppet Show

The ONANtiad puppet show is more than a substitute for a potential IJ footnote. The medium highlights the recursive structure, and political/radical puppetry underscores themes of colonization and environmental degradation. Construction of the puppet set functions as 3-D close reading, illustrating fan art’s potential for redress and showing how interacting with an “imaginary” work enriches textual understanding.



The Black-and-White Series

Theories of photography, including theories describing what constitutes a postmodern photograph, have been disrupted by digitization. The result, in part, has been a revival of analog processes. What's postmodern about this revival is its emphasis on truth.

B3: Political Narratives: IJ and Contemporary Discourse



Power, knowledge and alienation: the political deconstruction in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest

Under an interdisciplinary approach, this paper analyzes the dialectical nature of the analogies between novels and their real-world referents in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

The theoretical framework is based on three complementary perspectives: Bertrand Westphal’s theory of géocritique; Foucault’s perspectives on the relationship between power and knowledge, and Franck Fischbach’s work, who claims the actuality of the concept of human alienation.



But when I grew up, I put away adult things: protracted adolescence in Wallace’s works.

Across his works, with varied wording, Wallace describes America’s present culture and citizens as adolescent. Using identity theories of adolescence to flesh out what Wallace means by this, I argue that a protracted adolescence is indicative of Americans’ (and more broadly, America’s) unresolved identity crisis.

Session C


C1: Diversity Roundtable

Diego Báez (Moderator), Andrea Sheridan, Danielle Ely, Ryan Lackey

The climate in Wallace studies has always been somewhat contentious w/r/t its diversity, or more accurately, it’s lack of diversity. Critics and scholars critique both Wallace’s lack of diversity in his writing, and the lack of diversity in Wallace scholars, has created some backlash, most recently with Hungerford, Coyle and Crispin. This panel seeks to find out where we might find diversity in DFW’s fiction and nonfiction, the DFW community, and how we might expand diversity in DFW scholarship with a goal of increased participation for DFW18.

C2: Autobiography and Criticism



About The Author: Wallace's Real-Time (Auto)Biography

This project reads all “About the Author” statements accompanying Wallace’s major publications as a single text: a real-time (semi-auto) biography.

It examines how each statement contributes to a meaningful whole, create tensions internal to the text and how this mode of reading is complicated by posthumous “About the Author” statements.



Me and Wallace's Shadow: Creating Space for the Personal in Critical Writing About Wallace

This paper makes the case for the value of autobiographical criticism (in the tradition of Jane Tompkins’s groundbreaking essay “Me and My Shadow”) in Wallace studies as a way of challenging the assumed primacy of traditional academic argumentation, recently decried by Rita Felski as “narrow” and by Kevin Birmingham as “exploitative.”

C3: The Tangle of IJ: Eschaton and the 80's



“Eschaton: We’ll All Go Together When We Go."

The fascinating game of Eschaton from “Infinite Jest” is explored as a wargame simulation with antecedents, as a vision of final judgment, and as human interactions fraught with distrust and hostility that can erupt into open warfare at any time.



Gödel, Escher, Wallace: Why Infinite Jest Is a Systems Novel

This paper examines the influence of Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach (GEB) on Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Tracing how the references to GEB impact Wallace's novel, and borrowing Tom LeClair's useful term for the massive books of the postmodernists, it revisits an old debate: Is Infinite Jest a systems novel?

Thursday Evening



Basketball Courts



Stevenson 401 - Buffet starts in 401A

Welcoming Remarks

Katherine Ellison

Associate Chair, ISU Department of English


DFW Society Board Meeting

Stevenson 401



Stevenson 401 will remain open late.

Friday Morning


Coffee and Bagels

Stevenson 133

Session D


D1: DFW and the Boundaries of Art: Oblivion, Good Old Neon, Infinite Jest

S. Hamed


Oblivion Stories according to Baudrillard

This presentation will read Oblivion Stories from the perspective of Baudrillard. From his turn against Marxist theory to a critique of everyday life and finally prophecies on hyperreality, simulation and fractal stage of representation, Baudrillard will illuminate Oblivion Stories and point to moments in text which can enrich a critical readings of Wallace.



The Legacy of David Markson (Or Is It David Foster Wallace?)

I re-examine Wallace’s “The Empty Plenum: David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress” in the context of Wallace’s and Markson’s legacies, reflecting on the idea of “legacy” itself. I demonstrate how Wallace became instrumental in constructing Markson’s posthumous legacy and comment on the practice of legacy-making as the manipulation of cultural capital.

D2: Region, Culture, and DFW's Nonfiction



The Cultural Capital of David Foster Wallace as a “Textual Subject” In Contemporary Fiction

This paper focuses on what David Hering terms Wallace the “textual subject,” and traces the Wallace-like figures that appear in the work of Mark Leyner, Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Lethem, and Richard Powers. Using the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu, I explore these iterations to outline the cultural capital of Wallace across contemporary literature.


McRae Andrew

Regionality: David Foster Wallace and American regional fiction in the twentieth century

This paper reconsiders Wallace’s writing of region through links between his early fiction and the writing of Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor. Exploring Wallace’s complex relation to the regional tradition in twentieth century American fiction, it considers him alongside the turn to a ‘new regionalism’ in the 1980s.

D3: Creative Writing



The Nominee's Speech

As part of my PhD in Creative Writing, I will produce a novel-length work that speaks to my research into what it is to be an American citizen and how this relates to adolescence and adulthood in the works of David Foster Wallace. My creative reading is from this work-in-progress.



Although of Course You End Up Becoming (Less) Yourself

This essay documents a day at the 2016 David Foster Wallace Conference, as well as its own writing process in the months that follow. It considers Wallace's work, Central Illinois, and self consciousness.

D4: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men



Interviews, Empathy, and Hideous Men: Discussing Feminism and David Foster Wallace

In this essay I examine the questions of open dialogue and radical empathy in Brief Interviews to begin a conversation about some of the more difficult aspects of Wallace’s work: the “sublime” woman, the notable absence or caricature of racial minorities, and the foundational question, why is it the hideous man we, the reader, must work through in order to engage in empathy?



I'm With Someone I Know, But Don't Know How I Know Them

What if individuality, as you know it, was wrong? By exploring Wallace through a Hegelian lens, we'll attempt to see how empathy is always already at the core of our phenomenological relationship those around us to the point that it was weird any of us thought we were separated in the first place.

Session E


E1: Linguistics, Style, and Translation



Infinite Translation

The discussion on attempting to translate sections of Infinite Jest into Serbian will focus not solely on the challenges and feasibility of such a project, but also on the cultural understanding and exchange that happens when confronted with interpreting the novel from a different culture in a globalized world.



"Upgrade yo vocab": A Re-evaluation of Signifying Rappers Based on Primary Sources and Richard Rorty's Concept of Public Vocabularies.

A re-evaluation of Signifying Rappers based on archival material from the book’s editorial and publication process and Richard Rorty’s concept of vocabularies; highlighting the complexity and importance of Wallace’s rare analysis of racial and social relations in America as described in rap music.

E2: Infinite Jest Portrayals of Addiction and Excess



“Our attachments are our temple”: Addiction, Recovery, and the Metamodernist Movement

I examine how contemporary fiction departs from postmodern tendencies and draw parallels between certain postmodern characteristics and the disposition of most addicts. I explore White Teeth, Infinite Jest, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: how these novels continue postmodernism’s experimentation while abandoning its detachment to again explore authenticity and sincerity. These attributes ultimately enable addicts to cognitively and behaviorally reframe their engagement with their addiction, and I argue that these very qualities also push the literary community out of the postmodern refrain.



The American Dream in Infinite Jest and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Excessive, Detached, Extravagant and Full of Depravity Instead of Prosperity

While Hunter S. Thompson and David Foster Wallace have often been cited as dismissive toward one another, I argue that both writers were cognizant of the dark times on the horizon in their respective eras, and were simultaneously painfully aware of how the American Dream has been, and continues to be, a contributor to those dark times.

E3: This is Water



The Genesis of Water: How George Steiner Shaped Wallace's Kenyon Commencement Address

George Steiner's 1996 Kenyon Commencement address deeply influenced Wallace's approach to crafting his advice to Kenyon's students, but mostly in a negative way.



David Foster Wallace's Transformative Gifts and the Labor of Gratitude

This paper examines the influence of Alcoholics Anonymous and Lewis Hyde’s The Gift —specifically Hyde’s theorization of what he calls “gift economies” and their currency, expressed as “labors of gratitude”—on David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon Commencement Speech, the most distilled example of the writing ethic Wallace honed in Infinite Jest.

E4: Living Art

Peter Gus


Waves Upon The Stars

Depth can be strange and scary and totally liberating. Here are brief poems and a short story about characters experiencing something profound, an awareness of and a desire for compassionate living.



Trying to Find Out What the Entertainment's Appeal Is Without Sacrificing Any of Your Own:

A Field Report, P.S.2017

Melodrama, recapitulation, and an argument for the relevance of the filmography of the auteur.

"If there's one even remotely consistent theme it's maybe film and film-cartridges."

"But who can know what's on them? Who can study the Entertainment while detached? "

-- Infinite Jest

Session F


F1: Infinite Jest and Perception



Embodied Reading, Intersubjectivity, and Infinite Jest

Drawing on recent work in cognitive narrative theory and literary social cognition, my paper presents a conceptual framework for understanding readers’ co-creative engagement with Infinite Jest’s character minds, and with the narrative’s inferred author. I illustrate this model with a reading of the opening section of Infinite Jest.



A Policy of Blood and (Iron)y: Wallace as Ironist

I interpret Wallace as an ironist whose project to recover a poetics of sincerity “completes” irony by rendering irony sincere and sincerity ironic. Wallace achieves this as a literary affect by setting up “triple frames” that layer moments with overlapping levels of irony and sincerity that consequently erase the gaps between.

F2: Philosophy Special Session: Interpersonal Ethics






Posture and imposture in a extramoral sense: between tennis, semiotics, philosophy and politics: David Foster Wallace VS Bret Easton Ellis (also considering Philip K. Dick)

Bret Easton Ellis once said that David Foster Wallace was an impostor. Considering the Ellis' critique to Wallace, I will propose a survey on the concept (and the same word) of posture in Infinite Jest, with the certitude that it plays a central and fundamental role in DFW's literature, ethics and philosophy.



David Foster Wallace’s Sociology and its Existential Consequences

With this presentation I’ll call into question Wallace’s sociological analysis by comparing it to the works of Bauman and Giddens. By so doing, previously unnoticed nuances will surface that will, in turn, raise doubts as to whether Wallace’s thought and existentialism can effectively provide answers to neoliberal ideology.

F3: Feminism Special Session






"No More Smiley Masks": Wallace's Masked Woman

Masks recur in both literal and figurative ways throughout Wallace’s works, particularly in his representations of women. Via discussion of Infinite Jest’s Joelle Van Dyne and The Pale King’s Meredith Rand, I will show that masks are often intrinsically connected to Wallace’s treatment of female sexuality.



The De-democratization of Reading: Amy Hungerford’s Objection to Reading DFW

This essay will examine Amy Hungerford’s recent publications (“On Not Reading” featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education in September 2016 and the extended argument in her latest book Making Literature Now) on why she believes the reading public should not read the works of Davis Foster Wallace. I will examine her argue on three counts: 1) her assumption that the author’s (inter)actions in Real Life determine the kind of relationship (s)he has with the reader, 2) the writer/author-reader relationship portrayed as a sexual relationship–she depicts DFW’s fiction as trying to fuck the reader while Jonathan Safran Foer, in comparison, tries to make love to the reader[1], 3) the shame of admitting one has not read a work, and 4) the time quandary: reading takes time; longer books take more time to read; should we only read shorter books so as to be able to read more? This essay will briefly consider other women’s arguments on not reading DFW, and how the act of reading is still very much a political act and one that should remain open and free to all readers.

Friday Midday



Stevenson 401 - Buffet starts in 401A


Keynote: Jeffrey Severs

University of British Columbia

“We’ve been inside what we wanted all along”: Immanence and David Foster Wallace

Stevenson 401

Among contemporary fiction writers, few answer as readily as David Foster Wallace to the name of philosopher of immanence. In This is Water, Wallace essentially summarizes the problem of immanence – the problem of life in an immersive, invisible medium – with a joke: “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’” One young fish, in the only element he has ever known, asks his companion, “What the hell is water?” Throughout the speech, Wallace tries to get Kenyon graduates to see that the “water” they swim through is comprised of a series of “default settings,” assumptions – most of them solipsistic – that are so naturalized as to go unnoticed, those “most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities” that prove “the hardest to see and talk about” because we live wholly inside them. In trying to illuminate such realities, Wallace’s fictions eschew the predictable dramatic arcs and signs of too-tidy enlightenment he associated with conventional realism. He forges in the stead of such effects an existentialist project that takes aim at immanence – at the ubiquitous and the enveloping – through plotless stasis, recursive self-examination, and overwhelmingly informative encyclopedism. The infinite may be one of his major subjects, but he works always with a wariness of the transcendence of lived reality and immanence it portends. Freedom and other states of liberation in Wallace depend on going (back) in, not out or away into a realm of detachment – no “pathetic” “flight-from,” in the words of Hal Incandenza, no getting away from it all. In all these ways Wallace seems to agree with a well-known maxim paraphrasing a line of Robert Frost’s poetry: the only way out is through.

In this talk I explore Wallace’s immanence project through his dogged work on the language of away, out, in, and exit and his primary means for doing that work: the creation of strange, often rhizomatic forms of architecture, centered on images of paradoxical doors and other portals that I suggest are inspired by his deep reading of Kafka, the fiction writer Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari champion as the great portrayer of immanence. In its readings my talk focuses on images of the unboundable self in Infinite Jest, Oblivion (especially “The Suffering Channel”), and The Pale King, while also taking in elements of The Broom of the System, Wallace’s understanding of Wittgenstein, and a few other texts and examples.

Friday Afternoon

Session G


G1: Politics Special Session: Nationalism and Political Deconstruction






On and on and on: flatness, affect and the politics of place in the work of David Foster Wallace

This paper argues that Wallace’s complex engagement with postmodernist cynicism is framed partly through establishing an urban/rural friction in his writing. By creating this antagonism, he positions the city as a malevolent, mutable postmodernist space and the country as a space of “authentic” art and self-discovery.



“Rereading the Clichés of David Foster Wallace: Resisting Neoliberalism Through Valuing the Ordinary”

This paper examines how Wallace’s “Good Old Neon” employs cliché as a literary device for revealing selfishness, lovelessness, and delusions of uniqueness as “norms” of hegemonic masculinity. Wallace’s renewed philosophical investigation of cliché concludes with a recommendation that faith in being-for-the-Other is the key to ethical responsibility.



InterLaced: Infinite Jest and Late-Stage Capitalism

Profoundly resonant with late-stage capitalism in the United States, Infinite Jest is filled with ideological ploys of entertainment and media to effect mass social control of individuals. This essay analyzes Marxist theory and the sociopolitical context of Infinite Jest to demonstrate the divergence of economics and politics that Marx theorized would mark the end of capitalism.



The Writer’s Ethic: Addressing Autography to the ‘Post-Factual’ Era

This presentation reframes political discourses as autobiographical conflicts, per Berlant’s “intimate publics.” Through standpoint theory, we can see that technological comfort breeds epistemic apathy among many Americans. Perreault’s “autography” may provide creative writers a model to overcome social denigration of the academy.

G2: Empathy Special Session: Between You and Me: ‘Feeling Into’

Barbara Balfour (Chair), Corrie Baldauf, Dave Laird, and Lauren Nurse

The panelists explore empathetic connections between art and life, outsider and group, online and in-person interactions, footnotes and fungi – between you and me. Wallace said “True empathy’s impossible” yet described imaginatively identifying with a character as “nourishing and redemptive”. We consider how this might lead, in DFW’s words, to becoming “less alone inside”.

G3: Creative Writing: (Dis)Ordered Chaos: Presenting the (Un)Speakable Human Condition




Carman’s writing works to (re)define and explain the human condition through the manipulation of forms, ideas, understandings, and the (extra)ordinary details of everyday life.



Miller’s creative work is a nonlinear, fragmented text that seeks to dismantle traditional forms of narrative, disrupt generic boundaries, and dislocate perceptions and expectations.



Eggert’s creative work attempts to resemble the chaotic, traumatized nature of the mind under duress in order to bring readers closer to so-called “unspeakable” experience.

G4: Metatextual Infinite Jest



Worst Is the Armed Mother: Mariticide and Filial Aggression in 'The Dream Songs' and 'Infinite Jest'

Following up on last year’s conference paper, I have continued to research how Hal’s coping with grief for his father in Jest draws on Henry’s in the Songs. I pursue evidence that Henry suspects his mother of killing his father and seek parallels with Hal and Avril.



But Am I Paranoid Enough? Obsession, Addiction, and Reading in Infinite Jest

This paper considers reading Infinite Jest through the lens of obsession. Tracing how Wallace depicts obsession in his characters and encourages it in his reader, I configure obsession as an affect of reading that quilts together a diegetic world, an individual experience, and the text’s wider reception.



It Was a Great Marvel He Was in the Father Without Knowing Him: Orality, Literacy, and Visuality in Infinite Jest

This paper examines the various signifying systems of representation ( specifically notions of orality, literacy, and visuality) as they pertain to questions of identity and authorship in Infinite Jest. Particular theoretical attention is given to diegetic, extra-diegetic, and heuristic reading devices that work in concert to constitute the narrative.



STV 133

Session H


H1: Disability Studies Special Session: Mental Illness and "The Depressed Person"






‘It's like I can't get enough outside it to call it anything’: diagnosing depression in Infinite Jest.

This presentation functions as an introduction to the long-running theme of malaises and mood disorders in Wallace's fiction. Through the character of Kate Gompert in Infinite Jest this paper explores the foundations and boundaries of the mental disorder which 'hang[s] fog-like' over the novel and, indeed, Wallace’s entire oeuvre.



The Narcissist’s Wet Dream: ‘Good Old Neon’, David Foster Wallace and the Psychiatric Paradox

In 'Good Old Neon', DFW presents the "narcissist’s wet dream": an objective view of the self, free from selfhood. What does such a view say about mental illness and could it ever be possible?



Suicide as a Sort of Gift

Georges Bataille's concept of 'la part maudite' [The Accursed Share] offers a way of conceptualising certain orthodoxies about mental health and suicide. We might then understand Wallace's writing on such as the inevitable explosion, the catastrophic destruction, of a mind that produces an invulnerable surplus; an excess of thought and – being thought – impervious to destruction.

H2: Infinite Jest: Shifting Culture, Things, and Technology



“Society’s Destruction through Technology’s Seduction: Understanding James Incandenza’s filmography in Infinite Jest”

Using interviews with David Foster Wallace and specific critical research my discussion presents James Incandenza’s filmography as a declaration to technology’s seductive tendencies. This eight and half page filmography provides significant details into the destruction of society as portrayed in Infinite Jest.



Sifting through Lists: Reading and Rereading the “Litter-type Objects” of Infinite Jest

This paper brings together neomaterialist and psychoanalytic approaches to examine different models Infinite Jest provides for managing its things and objects. It focuses particularly on Wallace’s lists, as a way to understand how the novel, across numerous (re)readings, shifts attention between subject and object, self and world, inside and outside.



Delerious with Noxema: Pop Culture and Signal and Noise in Infinite Jest

A deep dive into the movie, television, film, art, music and other pop culture references in Infinite Jest. This 20 minute talk will be of the slide-show-and-video-clip-with-commentary style, a not-strictly-academic-but-easily-accessible-approach similar to the presenter’s talk on Wallace’s Boston at the first DFW Conference in 2015.

H3: Pedagogy: To Be Present and Human: The Pedagogy and Practice of Reading, Writing, and Thinking Outside the Margins

This interactive presentation considers how the comfort of mainstream (publishing and erudition) alienates/isolates readers/writers from innovative texts, how readers can work through the frustration/(mis)understanding of such texts, and how to turn discomfort into interest and engagement to create/engage in texts reflecting the present and what it means to be human.




Carman argues innovative collage works like Lance Olsen’s Calendar of Regrets are a more accurate reflection of reality (experienced through multiple windows/tabs) than mainstream literature.



Miller’s critical work argues passive readers who seek prepackaged meaning can be transformed into engaged, active architexts who construct meaning vis-à-vis experimental texts.



Eggert will share several short innovative texts used in her introductory creative writing classrooms, along with student samples that demonstrate experimental attempts at “stress writing.”

H4: Religion Special Session






The Sacred Midwest in "Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way."

Wallace imbues the Illinois landscape with a polarizing power over his story’s characters in "Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way," where an affinity with Midwestern surroundings emerges as a prerequisite to the oft cited "sincerity" of Wallace's post-postmodern agenda.



Addiction and Recovery in David Foster Wallace's Infinit Jest

An examination of addiction and Alcoholics Anonymous in Infinite Jest focused on how Wallace uses the religiously rooted 12-step program as a model for recovery from addiction.



Bloomsday in Beantown: The Influence of Ulysses on Infinite Jest

This paper examines the influence of Joyce’s Ulysses, specifically looking at correspondence between Hal Incandenza/Stephen Dedalus and Don Gately/Leopold Bloom. Each work offers similar messages regarding spirituality, critiquing the overly intellectual approach of the younger characters in favor of a more intuitive faith of the older men.

Friday Evening


The Great Concavity Podcast

Matt Bucher and Dave Laird

Stevenson 401

The Great Concavity will be broadcasting its first live episode on Facebook from 5:30-6:30 PM (CDT) on Friday the 9th, so join us there if you can't make the conference in person. This will be Episode 29, and will also go out as usual as well in case you miss the live stream.


Dinner, Refreshments, and Banter

Stevenson 401 - Buffet starts in 401A



Stevenson 401 will remain open late.

Saturday Morning


Coffee and Bagels

Session I


I1: Aesthetics of Failure and "Iceberg" Plotting



“Weirdly Compelling”: Desire, Pain, and the Aesthetics of Failure in Infinite Jest

In dialogue with Clare Hayes-Brady’s characterization of Wallace’s poetics as ones of “generative failure,” this paper focuses on the aesthetic importance of vulnerability, hiddenness, and suggestion in Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest. I focus on Mario’s search for “valid art” and his obsession with M.P.’s radio program to reconsider the novel’s affective and stylistic entanglements.



“Melting the Iceberg”: David Foster Wallace’s Rewriting of Ernest Hemingway

This talk addresses both the specific ways that “Good People” is indebted to Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants,” and how Wallace’s differing approach to similar subject matter encapsulates his attempt to revise the legacy of modernism, which he claimed left us with a “distrust of strong belief, [and] open conviction.”

I2: Inspiration for Pale King



The Pale King and the “Cowboys of Information”

Drawing on archival research at the Harry Ransom Center, this paper examines the composition, editing process, and reception of The Pale King. All three of these stages have been characterized by the same kind of labour that the novel is about: corralling large quantities of information into a meaningful narrative.



The Making of Sincerity: Wallace and Updike

This paper explores the substantial influence of John Updike on Wallace, focusing on Wallace’s engagement with Updike’s prose as an aesthetic ideal for narrative voice in The Pale King. Updike helps Wallace to develop the more beautiful and “sincere” single-entendre principles for which he strove.

I3: Creative Writing




A short story about the hacktivist group Anonymous that is slowly becoming the first chapter of a novel.



The Red Kite

“The Red Kite” is a prose-poem of empty wonder, wonder reaped in-- from-- solitude, and wonder that cannot last. Speaking pretentiously, Beckett meets Gass meets Lamorisse in Chicagoland.

Session J


J1: DFW: Conveying the Mysterious, the Spiritual, the Postmodern



David Foster Wallace, Jan Patočka and the Isolated Subject

Following Wallace’s discussion of advertising, I will suggest that the logic of cultivating a ‘personal identity’ has come to shape our social relations. I will suggest that the notion of the self as an isolated ego fails to grasp the necessarily situational ground that makes us who we are.



The Abolition of Maps: A Comparative Read of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and C.S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man

This paper compares similarities between the philosophical undercurrents of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. Both works offer, as a solution, the subjection of the individual will to a greater body for their concerns about a growing cultural tendency toward solipsism.

J2: Teaching Wallace's Prose



Building Sentences with David Foster Wallace

This presentation will demonstrate how stylistics can be used to explore David Foster Wallace’s style in both his fiction and nonfiction. By examining how Wallace uses different aspects of cumulative syntax, one will gain insight to how he used grammar in order achieve rhetorical ends.



Teaching with David Foster Wallace: Essays, Empathy & Empirical Research

Even though Wallace is gone, there is still a great deal he can teach us about writing. Students can learn how to scrutinize, digest, consider, write, rewrite, and expose. They learn to ask questions. Observe. Take notes. Ponder. They learn to write about things they care about; they observe; they experience.

J3: Creative Writing



A Silent Dirge in Progress

Jarot’s piece is an experiment in flash fiction that also serves as a deliberate attempt to blend the lines between poetry and fiction. It was originally composed sans capitalization and punctuation, both of which have been strategically added for both coherence and clarity.



An Echo of Sorrow

In this creative commentary on "progress" in a galaxy of magical force, a sad disciple of ancient knights tries to save her dying master from the inevitability of economic collapse. What have they lost from the old ways? How much did their lives of study matter, really?

Saturday Wrap-up


Town Hall, Giveaways, and Wrap-Up

Stevenson 133


Bag Lunch and Wrap-up

Stevenson 133


End of the Tour - Free Showing!

Normal Theater


We know of good places you can go to hang out!

Bloomington-Normal, Various Locations