Program of Panels and Events

2018 David Foster Wallace Conference

In Memory of Charlie Harris

For Charlie Harris – In Memoriam

Each year, a conference chair takes up a solemn responsibility: selecting and crafting the choice few words that will welcome attendees to a rushed weekend of thoughtful conversation and jet lag.  For me, these words always emerge well after midnight, in those final hours before the sheets of paper must absolutely go through the printer’s spool.

This year, we mourn the passing of Charlie Harris, perhaps the most warm-hearted scholar I have known.  He was generous with his time and his encouragement, and his passing leaves an emptiness.  I still remember the first time I met Charlie in person, after we’d exchanged a couple dozen e-mails.  It was DFW16, my first year running the conference.  And I remember the uncertainty that day.  As the clock crept past noon on the first day, I couldn’t tell if anyone could come.  Certainly, people had paid registration fees – we had rows of nametags, and programs, and even a budget.  But it was my first time running a conference of this size and scope – the first time in my life I was scheduling panels for people I’d never met, many of them flying in from half a world away.  In the quiet hours before registration opened, we had only one attendee – someone who arrived with their carry-on, still too early for check-in at the hotel.

But then Charlie stopped in.  I didn’t recognized him – I’d never met him.  But he was smiling, and he was shaking my hand, and talking about how well the conference was coming together.  And I remember staring at him, and my thoughts were as follows:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Are you and I talking about the same conference?
  3. I really, really hope some attendees show up.

Charlie was right – the conference was coming together.  But I was so wrapped up in minutia that I couldn’t see it.  Running a conference, teaching a class, writing a novel – it’s so easy to become lost in our own thoughts to the point that we lose our direction.  And this is what I miss most about Charlie – he looked to the point beyond the moment.  He considered how our efforts – whether they succeed or fail – define us.

Thanks to Charlie’s inspiration and the ongoing support of so many friends of the conference, I feel that the community is as strong now as it has ever been.  Here, I want to thank those who have helped make this year’s conference possible:

Conference Committee

Ryan Edel (Chair)

Casey Babcock

Justin Charron

Cory Hudson

Wesley Jacques

Hannah Kroonblawd

Blake Reno

Andres Sanchez


Zeph Webster


Sally Parry

Robert McLaughlin

Victoria Harris

English Department

Chris De Santis (Chair)

Angela Haas

Jeanne Merkle

Libby Lind

Amy Tellor

Sherrie Howe

Writing Program

Joyce Walker (Director)

Maegan Gaddis

Financial Contributions

Clare Hayes-Brady

Mary Ann Brow

Jeffrey Severs

George Vance

Conference Program Contents

For Charlie Harris – In Memoriam        1

Notes on the Schedule and Technology        4

Thursday – June 7        5

1:00-1:50 – Thursday Afternoon Panels        5

Room A – Skeptical Reading: Wallace, Trust, and “Octet”        5

Room B – Hate-Reading Infinite Jest        6

2:00-2:50 – Thursday Afternoon Panels        6

Room A – Theories of Language: Foucault and Wallace’s Editing Habits        6

Room B – Contemporary Literature and Culture: Lethem and Kerouac        7

Room C – Creative Writing: Fiction About Failed Parents        7

3:00-4:15 – Thursday Afternoon Panels        8

Room A (3:00-3:50) – Wallace and Society: Pop Culture and Fragmentation        8

Room B (3:00-4:15) – The Pale King: How Wallace Mythologizes Mediocrity and Decline        9

4:15-5:00 – Longer Break        10

5:00-5:45 – Thursday Dinner and Welcoming Remarks        10

6:00-8:00 – Ice Cream on the Quad        10

Friday – June 8        11

9:00-9:50 – Friday Morning Panels (Note Room D Time Difference)        11

Room A – Infinite Jest and Abstraction: Mathematics, Ulysses, and Postmodernism        11

Room B – Creative Writing: Poetry, Hybridity, and Infinite Jest        11

Room C – Cognitive and Narrative Perspectives of “Brief Interviews”        12

10:00-10:50 – Friday Morning Panels        13

*Room A – Infinite Jest and Psychology        13

Room B – Transtextuality in Wallace: Infinite Jest, Broom of the System, and How Books Consume Themselves        14

Room C – Pedagogy: Engaging Students with Wallace        15

11:00-12:00 – Clare Hayes-Brady Keynote        15

"Reading your problematic fave: David Foster Wallace, feminism and #metoo"        15

12:00-12:50 – Lunch        15

1:00-1:50 – Friday Afternoon Panels        16

Room A – Diversity Panel: The Wallace Studies Community in 2018        16

Room B – Creative Writing: Life Narratives of Trauma and Mental Illness        16

Room C – Wallace, Joyce, and Barth: Characterizing Mythology and Maturity        17

2:00-2:50 – Sean Allen Pratt Talk        18

3:00-3:50 – Friday Afternoon Panels        18

Room A – Wallace and the Figure of the Child        18

Room B – Wittgenstein and Wallace        18

*Room C – Neurology, Pharmaceuticals, and Addiction in Infinite Jest        19

4:00-4:50 – Sean Allen Pratt Workshop        20

5:00-5:45 – DFW Society Meeting        20

6:00-6:45 – Hyatt Reception        20

6:45-8:00 – Charlie Harris Remembrance        21

Saturday – June 9        21

9:00-9:50 – Saturday Morning Panels        21

Room A – Mapping Theory: Baudrillard, Kierkegaard, and Wallace        21

*Room B – A Home Beyond: Spain, Junot Díaz, and Wallace’s Writing        22

10:00-11:15 – Saturday Morning Panels        22

*Room B – Wallace, Realism, and Politics        22

11:20-12:30/12:45 – Saturday Morning Panels        23

Room A – Psychological and Spiritual Conceptions of Self in Infinite Jest        23

Room B – The Nature of Reading and the “Difficult” Book        24

Room D – (until 12:45) Teaching Wallace: Firsthand Accounts from Students and Teachers        25

12:30-12:50 – Saturday Wrap-Up        25

Notes on the Schedule and Technology

  • Moderators: Like last year, we’ll offer sign-ups at the conference to moderate panels.  Responsibilities include introducing the presenters, tracking the time, and opening the Q&A with a few questions.  Panels marked with an asterisk (*) will have space for two moderators.
  • Timing: Each presenter has 25 minutes to work with.  I recommend preparing a 15-minute paper, then saving the remaining 10 minutes for the Q&A – Papers in the range of 12-20 minutes are acceptable.  Moderators, it will be your role to direct additional questions to presenters who save more time for the Q&A.
  • Projectors: Every classroom is equipped with a computer, a projector, and connections for HDMI and VGA.  If you have a Mac or a device with USB-C, please bring the appropriate adapters if you'd like to use your personal laptop with the projector.
  • Room A is our Livestream Room.  If you're assigned to this room, you should have the opportunity to stream your presentation to our Facebook page.  We've only assigned presenters here who expressed a positive interest, but you are not required to have your presentation recorded.
  • Room B is our Skype Room.  If you need Skype and you're not in Room B, please e-mail me right away.  For conference quality, each Skype presenter has been matched up with a presenter who’d attending in person.
  • Rooms C and D are ordinary rooms - we don't have plans to offer Skype or video in these rooms.  If you would like to video yourself, please feel free - we'd be happy to share your video on our Facebook Page, if you like.  We simply don't have the technology to cover all the rooms.

Thursday – June 7

1:00-1:50 – Thursday Afternoon Panels





Room A – Skeptical Reading: Wallace, Trust, and “Octet”

Matthew Luter

"More Like a Reader": A Post-critical "Octet"

Drawing from post-critical work by Rita Felski (and a variety of her work’s recent commentators), this paper offers a post-critical reading of Wallace’s “Octet.” I suggest that the story succeeds not because it acknowledges its own fictionality, but because, through acknowledging its own fragility, it intentionally forestalls skeptical reactions based in critique.

Matthew Luter is on the English faculty at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of Understanding Jonathan Lethem (University of South Carolina Press, 2015). His articles, on authors including Don DeLillo, Ellen Douglas, Willie Morris, and Bret Easton Ellis, have appeared in journals including Critique, The Southern Literary Journal, Genre, and Orbit.

Matt Prout

David Foster Wallace and 'the Hermeneutics of Suspicion'

Ideas of suspicion and trust, specifically as these are related to modes of reading, surface throughout Wallace’s work. The dilemma of whether or not we as readers ought to ‘trust’ Wallace features prominently in responses to his work, both within the academy and as a part of its broader cultural reception. Exploring how Wallace’s work provokes the question of whether we ought to ‘trust’ it can help to explain the sometimes extremely diverse range and tone of responses to his work.

PhD student working on philosophical scepticism in Wallace, Wittgenstein and Stanley Cavell with Professor Andrew Bennett at the University of Bristol. MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Royal Holloway University of London. BA in English Literature and Creative writing at Royal Holloway University of London.

Room B – Hate-Reading Infinite Jest

Colleen Leahy

Makini Allwood

Hate-Reading Infinite Jest

There are those who love Infinite Jest... and there are those who denounce it as a relic of “litbro” culture and refuse to read it as an act of feminism. But what happens when two of the nonbelievers decide to do an experiment to see if maybe — just maybe — they might be wrong? Welcome to And But So, a podcast that tracks two extremely skeptical readers as they make their way through Infinite Jest for the first time, all 1,079 pages of it. Come hear about our year-long adventure into the beast that is IJ and our thoughts on accessibility, representation and more. (And get a podcast sneak peek!)

Colleen Leahy is a lifelong bookworm who loves to dance and nap. She's a producer at Wisconsin Public Radio.

Makini Allwood is a Midwestern creative who proselytizes feminism on public transportation sometimes. She's worked as a freelance photographer, blogger, and illustrator and now works in marketing.

2:00-2:50 – Thursday Afternoon Panels





Room A – Theories of Language: Foucault and Wallace’s Editing Habits

Chiara Scarlato

Languages, Objects, and Words: Michel Foucault and David Foster Wallace

The aim of the present paper is to enframe Wallace's fiction and non-fiction literary production under the Foucauldian theory around literature, language, and madness in order to underline how literature itself could be considered as a particular form of communication-in-absence among human beings.

Chiara Scarlato is a PhD student in Philosophy at the University d'Annunzio of Chieti – Pescara (Italy). She works on the relationship between Wallace's writings and 20th-century philosophy. She wrote essays and reviews about Wallace; she is member of the organizing office of "David Foster Wallace Between Philosophy and Literature" Conference.

Emilio Englade

Inside the Final Edits to Infinite Jest        

Why did DFW make so many edits to the proofs of Infinite Jest? D. T. Max gives the intuitive answer: he was cleaning up the mess the copyeditor had made of his text. Looking through DFW's papers at the Ransom Center, we see a much less agonistic process at work.

Englade is a professional copyeditor, as well as a volunteer docent at the Harry Ransom Center and an independent scholar researching the composition of Infinite Jest.

Room B – Contemporary Literature and Culture: Lethem and Kerouac

David Hansen

Exploring the Virtual Realities in Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City

This presentation looks at Jonathan Lethem’s novel, Chronic City, and explores his use of virtual reality in order to comment on the expectations of the printed work. Additional discussion will address virtual space identities, offline relationships, and how single person interactions engender loneliness .

David Hansen received his undergraduate degree at Northern Michigan University in English. After a year off touring with a repertory theatre company he earned his MA in Literature as well as an additional Educational Specialist degree. David is currently in his second year of PhD studies at Illinois State University.

Justin Charron


On the Road: Considering the French Canadian Diaspora

Kerouac’s On the Road narrates this process on his journey of personal growth and self-understanding as a member of the French Canadian diaspora in New England. Throughout the majority of the time since its publication in 1957, much of the literary criticism surrounding the text has largely ignored the implications of Kerouac’s identity as a French Canadian

Justin Charron is an alumnus of Three Rivers Community College and Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Charron presented at the Eastern Communication Association Conference as an undergraduate in 2013, and was awarded a Academy of American Poets prize in poetry in 2017. Charron is currently studying American literature and Cultural studies at Illinois State University as a graduate assistant.

Room C – Creative Writing: Fiction About Failed Parents

Jeff Jarot

"Home Movies"

“Home Movies” concerns a protagonist who has failed miserably as a father. He is sequestered in a motel room, where he has an opportunity to reevaluate his life and the mistakes he has made. At the time it was originally written, it was an admittedly shameless imitation of a typical Raymond Carverian protagonist’s dire situation, yet it has been repeatedly revised in the years since its original iteration.

Jeff Jarot is a writer who teaches high school English. He holds a BA in English from Illinois Wesleyan University, a BA in English Education and MA in English from Illinois State University, and an MA in English from Northern Illinois University. He has presented both his fictional and scholarly work at the previous three DFW conferences at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. Jarot’s novella Zuzu’s Petals was published in February 2016 by Lit Fest Press. He lives in Plainfield, Illinois with his wife and three children.

Ryan Edel

On Pain of Forever

For those who grew up on Mars, home meant pain. Life was short, brutal, and unforgiving. However hard Selonge Naita tries, she cannot come to terms with her childhood on the red planet. She barely remembers her own parents – she cannot fathom the lives they led.

Ryan Edel is a postdoc at Illinois State University and chair of the DFW Conference. Each semester, he quietly admits to his students that he writes science fiction. "Don't tell the English Department," he whispers. "They'll disown me."

3:00-4:15 – Thursday Afternoon Panels





Room A (3:00-3:50) – Wallace and Society: Pop Culture and Fragmentation

Samantha Wallace

David Foster Wallace, Abject Masculinity, and Imperfect Female Designs

In this essay, I focus on Infinite Jest’s aesthetics of fragmentation and excess, which I read as the novel’s critique of contemporary, American masculinity. Infinite Jest’s formal chaos registers the fractures resulting from contemporary, abject, male desire. It also registers a counterforce in its female characters.

Samantha is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Virginia. Her current research concerns questions of experimental form and the novel, with a focus on American contemporary “composite” novels. Before coming to the University of Virginia she was involved with art education at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and open-access publishing with PLOS, San Francisco.

Mike Miley

On the Porousness of Certain Davids: Art, Commerce, and Authorship in Lynch and Wallace

This paper argues that if one wants to understand how Wallace learned to juggle pop entertainment and avant-garde experimentation, then one needs to look more closely at the filmmaker David Lynch.

Mike Miley teaches literature at Metairie Park Country Day School and film studies at Loyola University New Orleans. He is the Vice President of the International David Foster Wallace Society and an associate editor for the Journal for David Foster Wallace Studies. His scholarship on Wallace has appeared in Critique, The Smart Set, and the forthcoming MLA volume Approaches to Teaching David Foster Wallace

Room B (3:00-4:15) – The Pale King: How Wallace Mythologizes Mediocrity and Decline

Tim Groenland

(Skype and Online A/V)

“The Fragment”: “Cede,” Ancient Rome, and The Pale King

The archives for The Pale King contain drafts of a story called “Cede,” a brief, enigmatic, and unfinished piece set in Ancient Rome. This paper will consider the piece's compositional history and narrative development, showing how it highlights Wallace’s interest in themes of fatherhood, religion, and imperial decline.

Tim Groenland is Teaching Fellow in Modern and Contemporary English Literature at the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin, Ireland. His book The Art of Editing: Raymond Carver and David Foster Wallace is forthcoming from Bloomsbury in 2019.

Anna Travis

Mediocre Men and Pale Kings: Two Centuries of Sublime Office Tedium

The Pale King’s place within quotidian quest myth is elucidated through striking parallels to Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet (1913-1934). Wallace’s epic dissection of the IRS fits into a legacy of elegiac treatments of stupefyingly dull office life, populated with ‘mediocre’ men protagonists that span 20th to 21st century fiction.

Freelance writer, Art History Lecturer and PhD candidate at University of Brighton, exploring models of authentic inner voice in fiction. Current research centres on contemporary Anglo-American fiction, Marxist and absurdist aesthetics. Reviewer for The Times Literary Supplement and Battles in Print, run adult education courses on Literary Theory, Twentieth-Century Poetry and Fiction and delivered Higher Education mental health support.

(Ex County tennis player, from family of tennis coaches, ex English tutor: Enfield College, UK).

Tess Brewer

"Hats, Bugs, and Fears: Filling the Narrative Gaps in The Pale King."

I've written a comprehensive guide to The Pale King, that I'm currently in efforts to develop into a book, that I'd be interested in sharing.  This works breaks down, quite minutely, the intricacies of The Pale King in an attempt to reconcile the missing pieces created by both the editorial cuts and the unfinished bits of the published text. In doing so, I’ve created a chapter by chapter chart that documents the books nuances in character and repeated images, themes and phrases, allowing me to extrapolate on and interpret the broader gaps.

Tess Brewer is a graduate of the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Studies, where this project was the undergraduate thesis for her concentration in Genre Studies and the Encyclopedic Novel. She will begin graduate studies in English: Issues in Modern Culture this fall at the University College of London, where she’ll study literary manifestations of fear and anxiety, in continuation of her undergraduate work studying David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, and James Joyce.

4:15-5:00 – Longer Break

Take a moment to pause, relax, and enjoy the water.  Stop by 133 for conversation and snacks.

5:00-5:45 – Thursday Dinner and Welcoming Remarks

STV 401

6:00-8:00 – Ice Cream on the Quad

Walk half block due west from Stevenson Hall.

Friday – June 8

9:00-9:50 – Friday Morning Panels (Note Room D Time Difference)





Room A – Infinite Jest and Abstraction: Mathematics, Ulysses, and Postmodernism

Max Chapnick


Abstract Math in Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest, a masterpiece of world-creation, also preoccupies itself with the specifics of mathematical abstractions from Cantorian proofs, to Mean Value Theorem footnotes and a ghost whose movements resemble neutrinos. In this paper I will argue that these scientific and mathematical concepts often function as metaphors for the process of fiction-writing and world-creating itself.

Max Laitman Chapnick holds degrees in Physics and English from Washington and Lee U., and a MA in Creative Writing in poetry from Victoria U. of Wellington. A Ph.D. student at Boston U., Max lives in Allston along the “trundle and clang” of the Comm Ave Green Line.

Dominik Steinhilber

Infinite Jest and the Ulyssean Tradition – Modernist Aims with Postmodern Means

Infinite Jest is an epic novel written in the tradition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. By raising the Ulyssean methods of metempsychosis, consubstantiality, and parallax to the level of the reading process in order to counter postmodern solipsism, Infinite Jest uses distinctly postmodern techniques to achieve the modernist aims of Ulysses.

Dominik Steinhilber is a research assistant at the University of Mannheim, Germany. He is currently working on a dissertation on the American epic novel in the tradition of James Joyce’s Ulysses and has published on the intertextual relations of Wallace’s Infinite Jest. He can be reached via .

Room B – Creative Writing: Poetry, Hybridity, and Infinite Jest

George Vance

(Skype, Handout, and Online A/V)

(In)finite Gist

(In)finite Gist, a re-interpretive summary of DFW’s Infinite Jest, is derived from typographical white-river-randomized excerpts yielding word-pair groups in columns, from which new sentences and sentence-fragments are formulated through word and letter scrambling, exclusively employing DFW’s own original words.

An American poet currently living in Guadeloupe, an island Département of France, Vance has published in Paris-based journals (Upstairs at Duroc, Bastille, Pharos), has read at numerous Paris venues (Poets Live, Ivy, Upstairs at Duroc) and has published a volume of poetry, A SHORT CIRCUIT (corrupt press), as well as a chapbook, Xmas Collage. He also has a play, Sein Kampf, dealing with Hitler’s youth in Vienna. He is presently working on a poetry manuscript as well as independently continuing work on his (In)finite Gist project.

Jeffrey Tucker

"I Am Fighting My Eyes" and Other Poems

A creative presentation, consisting of poetry. "The flash and small fish, brief x-ray of slate water. She thinks she saw them. And it: next to the

pier, a photobooth, underwater, crooked corner piercing floating foam. Current knocks the booth

against a pylon. Will he show? Red restaurant neon ghosts the whitewashed deck. Another

flash. She doesn’t remember a photobooth, not when they came here."

Jeffrey Tucker currently teaches English at Brigham Young University in Utah. In the past, he’s taught at universities in Virginia and Mississippi. His first full-length collection of poems, Kill February, was published in 2016 as the winner of Sage Hill Press’ Powder Horn Prize; his poetry has also appeared in journals such as Sugar House Review, RHINO, Poetry South, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. He also occasionally writes fiction.

Room C – Cognitive and Narrative Perspectives of “Brief Interviews”

Christopher White

Thinking with Fiction: A Cognitive Reading of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

From a cognitive perspective, the experimental stylistic and narrative techniques utilized by Wallace in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men may be seen as unique “affordances” for thinking about fiction itself—that is, fiction conceived of as an intersubjective act of communication between an author and a reader.

Christopher White is an Associate Professor of English at Governors State University, located south of Chicago. He has published articles on William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy in the Journal of Modern Literature, Southwestern American Literature, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, and Studies in the Novel.

Pia Masiero

“‘Even for an instant’: Embodied Communication in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”

Among the manipulative folds of the series of brief interviews, “Think” presents a possible way out of the infected communicative patterns the collection stages through the choice of a rare case of double internal focalization and a challenging handling of embodied perspectival effects. “Think” may thus pave the way for a (mildly) positive reading of BI#20.

Pia Masiero is Associate Professor of North American Literature at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Her research interests include modernist and contemporary literature, literary theory at the intersection of cognitive sciences and post-classical narratology. She has published on Philip Roth, William Faulkner, David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Paul Auster, Jorge Luis Borges, Roberto Bolaño.

10:00-10:50 – Friday Morning Panels





*Room A – Infinite Jest and Psychology

Ryan Kerr

"Depression, Alienation, and the Medical Gaze in Infinite Jest"

This presentation will use a Foucauldian lens to examine Wallace's frustration with the medical industry as an institution of power, and it will explore the implications of the Foucauldian call for social change as seen in the psychiatry scenes in Infinite Jest.

Ryan Kerr is an M.A. student in English at the University of Virginia. His work on the political implications of the television series Frank’s Place has been published by the Arkansas Review. Kerr's areas of interest include modern British literature, modern Irish literature, American postmodernism, and postcolonial literature.

Tom Winchester

IJ for Hal

The master copy of ‘The Entertainment’ is an elusive component in the narrative of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Wallace’s annotated books and manuscripts shed light on the author’s creative process. These documents give clues as to the inspiration behind it being referred to as ‘The Entertainment,’ its content, its initial purpose in the novel, as well as why it doesn’t appear in the narrative.

Tom Winchester is a critic and artist from St. Petersburg, Florida. He has presented at DFW Con for the last three years.

Room B – Transtextuality in Wallace: Infinite Jest, Broom of the System, and How Books Consume Themselves

Kathryne Metcalf

Infinite Jest, Infinite Texts: The Synecdochic Network of the Encyclopedic Novel

By examining Infinite Jest’s footnotes through the cybernetic theory of George Landow, Roland Barthes and others, I argue that the encyclopedic novel can function as hyperlinked fiction, demonstrating the utility and insight contemporary network theory offers in unpacking the complex informational structuring such long works provide.

Kathryne Metcalf is a graduate student in American Cultural Studies at Bowling Green State University. Formerly a science writer, her research examines media and textual depictions of contemporary technophobia, particularly as they relate to scientific advances and new technologies.

Marco Meneghelli


Ouroboro-like: A brief survey on Infinite Jest

Chris Power, a literary journalist from the Guardian, wrote about “Brief Interviews with hideous men” by David Foster Wallace: “They are ouroboros-like stories that consume themselves at the same time as we consume them”

With my proposal, I will show that not only his short stories but also DFW’s Main novels (in particular “Infinite Jest” and “The Broom of the System”) have a deep ouroboro structure.

He was born in Fiorenzuola, Italy. He is graduated in Philosophy with a thesis on the concept of infinite and continuity in the thought of the great American philosopher, Charles Sanders Peirce. His field of interest is infinity, continuity, recursion and so on. He loves David Foster Wallace ad infinitum and more.

Room C – Pedagogy: Engaging Students with Wallace

Andrea Laurencell Sheridan

“I hate that I love him so much”: Teaching Wallace

In what I hope to be a more interactive conversation than many panels, I would love to discuss experiences teaching Wallace, and why he is never a neutral figure for students--his stories, his biography, and his personality resonate with students of all ages and all reading levels.

Ándrea Laurencell Sheridan is an Assistant Professor of English at SUNY Orange in New York. She serves as the Diversity Coordinator for the DFW Society and her research interests include 21st-century literature and experimental literature in many forms.

Grace Chipperfield

Wallace Studies and the ‘possibilities for reach and grasp, for making heads throb heartlike’

Rita Felski’s Uses of Literature (2008) looks at the ‘schism between academic criticism and lay reading’ (12). But in the Wallace community the so-called ‘lay reader’ frequently engages with and participates in the academic criticism and conversations around his works. In my paper I want to explore if/how Wallace Studies might resolve this schism.

Grace Chipperfield is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Flinders University in South Australia. In 2018 she is continuing her PhD research in the US with a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship, and is affiliated with The University of Texas at Austin and Illinois State University. She is also on the editorial board for The Journal of David Foster Wallace Studies.

11:00-12:00 – Clare Hayes-Brady Keynote

"Reading your problematic fave: David Foster Wallace, feminism and #metoo"

STV 101

12:00-12:50 – Lunch

STV 401

1:00-1:50 – Friday Afternoon Panels





Room A – Diversity Panel: The Wallace Studies Community in 2018

Andrea Laurencell Sheridan

Mike Miley

Matt Bucher

Diversity Panel

A discussion of how well we’re inviting new voices into DFW Studies.  We’ll also Livestream to Facebook (assuming technology works!) in order to take questions from audiences beyond the conference.

Room B – Creative Writing: Life Narratives of Trauma and Mental Illness

Danielle Ely

The King and Queen of Hearts

"The King and Queen of Hearts" is a creative nonfiction piece that is the result of two years spent in grief counseling after the loss of my father. Some of the more obvious tie-ins to Wallace include the theme of grief and loss, and also the idea of writing as therapy. In fact, the only way I could really wrap my head around the trauma my family experienced was to write about it.

Danielle S. Ely is an adjunct instructor of English at Columbia-Greene Community College, Dutchess Community College, Hudson Valley Community College, and The College of Saint Rose. She wrote a Master's Thesis on Infinite Jest in 2011 called "Into the Womb of Solipsism: The Entertainment as Speculum" which can be found on Proquest for free.

Andrea Berns (Skype)

Free the Strange

Free The Strange is a chapbook of hybrid writings depicting author Andrea Berns's experiences with bipolar disorder. The piece moves through three parts: the heavy darkness of Depression, the overwhelmingly fast pace of Mania, and finally the tranquil calmness of Life. Free The Strange adds to the conversation of breaking the stigma associated with mental illness so that this taboo subject may become more openly and comfortably discussed.

Andrea Berns graduated with a master's degree in English Studies in May 2018. As a recipient of the Sutherland Fellowship, she had the opportunity for her chapbook Free the Strange to be published by Press 254 through the Illinois State University Publications Unit. Additionally, this fellowship gave her the opportunity to work in the Publications Unit her first year of graduate school and teach creative writing her second year. She spent a third year writing her thesis over modern Shakespeare anthologies.

Room C – Wallace, Joyce, and Barth: Characterizing Mythology and Maturity

Cory Hudson

Chimerical Mythologies: Examining the Role of Greek Myth in Barth, Joyce, and Wallace

This presentation seeks to explore how Greek mythology functions in David Foster Wallace’s short story “Tri-Stan: I Sold Sissee Nar to Ecko” in comparison to the role of mythology in James Joyce’s Ulysses and John Barth’s Chimera. The presentation’s purpose is to situate Wallace’s contemporary, post-postmodern, or late-postmodern use of Greek mythology in “Tri-Stan” comparatively to a quintessential modernist’s (i.e., Joyce’s) and a postmodernist’s (i.e., Barth’s) use of mythology.

Cory Hudson is a third-year doctoral student at Illinois State University. His research interests include: postmodernism, contemporary U.S. fiction, and exploring the intersections between mathematics and narrative theory.

Martin Brick

“Old Father, Old Artificer: Revisiting Joyce in ‘The Soul is Not a Smithy’”

This paper will examine the nature of DFW’s disavowal of James Joyce’s “soul as smithy” metaphor by suggesting not that Wallace means to challenge Joyce, but rather that he wants to direct our attention elsewhere, that Joyce’s most poignant characters are the very young and the more mature, a model Wallace follows in much of his writing.

Martin Brick is Associate Professor of English at Ohio Dominican University. His primary research agenda explores the intersection of religion and modernist and postmodern literature. He has published on James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, David Foster Wallace, and Mark Z. Danielewski in journals such as James Joyce Quarterly and Christianity and Literature.

2:00-2:50 – Sean Allen Pratt Talk

STV 101

3:00-3:50 – Friday Afternoon Panels





Room A – Wallace and the Figure of the Child

Harry Williams


Children's Stories: Reconfiguring Literary Authority in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Using Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, this presentation will consider Wallace’s deployment of the figure of the child in the tradition of resistance to postmodern aesthetics. By combining seminal debates on literary authority and queer theory debates on the ideology of “the child”, Wallace’s children reveal themselves as integral to his post-postmodern project.

Harry Williams is a hopeful David Foster Wallace scholar, eager to prove his academic chops. He is a recent graduate of the University of Exeter and is shamefully interested in the Western canon and all its fallout.

Angelo Grossi

“The Same and Yet Altered”: An Anamorphic Reading of Infinite Jest

The issues of “anamorphosis” and of the Lacanian “gaze” play a fundamental, yet subterranean role in the thematic economy of Infinite Jest. In interpreting Infinite Jest through these concepts, I will propose a reading of the novel as a path that leads outside ideology and toward the traumatic “real.”

Angelo Grossi is a PhD candidate in Languages, Cultures and Societies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. His current research focuses on the relationship between David Foster Wallace and film studies, with a particular stress on the presence of elements of Lacanian film theory within Wallace’s body of work.

Room B – Wittgenstein and Wallace

Julien Tempone (Skype)

Revisiting the empty plenum: Wittgenstein relevance to David Foster Wallace's account of the intersection of literature and philosophy

Wallaces article "the Empty Plenum" serves as the perfect frame for exploring his conception of the connection between literature and philosophy. How, in Wallace's words, to fuse philosophy with fiction and make "heads throb heart like." This is the perfect seminar for those fascinated by how DFW's novels of ideas are able conjoin "cerebration & emotion, abstraction & lived life, transcendental truth seeking & daily schlepping." Be forwarned - this is a Wittgenstein-dense presentation, and touches on madhyamaka Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, but will be as approachable as possible

Julien is a phd student in creative writing in his final year at the university of Tasmania, his background is however in analytic philosophy and the philosophy of science. He is an avid Wallace fan, Wallace having influenced much of his earlier fiction and creative nonfiction. He is currently frantically pulling his remaining hair from his crown as he frantically pulls together drafts for publication of a collection of poems and his dissertation on Wallace.

Kylie Musolf

The Deep Nonsense of Madame Psychosis: Re-reading Wallace Reading Wittgenstein

The aim of this paper is to read Wallace’s reading of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus back onto itself. Wallace is traditionally considered an orthodox ineffability reader of the Tractatus. However, a close reading of Madame Psychosis contradicts Wallace’s ineffability interpretation. Rather, a resolute interpretation is actually more consistent with Wallace’s remarks on Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations found within “The Empty Plenum.”

Kylie Musolf is a graduate student in the University of New Mexico’s Department of Philosophy. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from American University. Her interests are 19th and 20th century continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, philosophy of literature, feminist philosophy, post-colonialism and existentialism.

*Room C – Neurology, Pharmaceuticals, and Addiction in Infinite Jest

Alexander Moran

Infinite Jest and the Opiate Crisis

This paper first situates Infinite Jest as the latest instance of “opiate fiction”, a history that dates back to The Odyssey. Then, focusing specifically on footnotes 5 to 12, it argues that Wallace’s dystopian novel embodies a new turn in opiate fiction: the commercialization of opiates under late capitalism.

Alex Moran completed his doctorate at the University of Birmingham in 2017. He has had articles published on Wallace, Colson Whitehead, and Jennifer Egan, and he is currently working on an introductory volume to Egan's work. He also serves as the reviews editor for the Journal of David Foster Wallace Studies.

Thomas Moore

Reconsidering the Political Affordances of the Postmodern Short Story: Metafictional Demystification in Barthelme’s “The Balloon”

Building from the Marxist formal aesthetics of Rancière, Marcuse, and Levine, this paper refutes the notion that postmodernist metafiction is mere apolitical wordplay. I expose the overlooked political urgently of Barthelme’s “The Balloon” by analyzing how it disrupts dominant modes of perception and emphasizes the malleability of all systems that govern our actions.

Thomas D. Moore is currently enrolled in University of Illinois at Chicago’s literary critical studies PhD program. He presented papers on David Foster Wallace at numerous conferences in recent years, and his research interests include 20th- and 21st-century experimental fiction, critical theory, narrative theory, aesthetics, ethics, and literary form.

4:00-4:50 – Sean Allen Pratt Workshop

STV 401

5:00-5:45 – DFW Society Meeting

Open to all attendees – please come by to learn more about the DFW Studies Journal and other Society initiatives!

STV 401

6:00-6:45 – Hyatt Reception

Hors d’Oeuvres and Reception

Hyatt, 2nd Floor Balcony

Hyatt location: 200 Broadway Avenue

First, walk north to North Street (just past Alamo II).

Then turn right, walk two blocks east to Broadway (just past Normal Theater to intersection with The Rock Cafe.)

Turn right again, you’ll see the Hyatt on your left (across the street from the Marriott).

Doors open at 6pm.

6:45-8:00 – Charlie Harris Remembrance

Hyatt, 2nd Floor Balcony

Saturday  June 9

9:00-9:50 – Saturday Morning Panels





Room A – Mapping Theory: Baudrillard, Kierkegaard, and Wallace

Hamed Tayebi


Map, Territory and Signs in David Foster Wallace’s Selected Fiction

The dichotomy of map/territory informs many events in Wallace. Previous scholarship reads such dichotomy as a symptom of simulation and simulacrum. In conjunction with my reading of Wallace, I will explain Baudrillard’s ‘orders of sign’ and offer a new reading of Broom of the System and Infinite Jest.

Hamed Tayebi wrote his master’s thesis on Oblivion Stories. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at universities of Graz and Paris-Diderot completing a dissertation on the oeuvre of Wallace from the perspective of Roland Barthes, Herbert Marcuse, Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio.

Vernon Cisney

In G.O.D. We Trust: The Desert of the Religious in Wallace's Early Works

This paper explores the influence of Søren Kierkegaard’s thinking upon Wallace’s early writings. In particular, I read the Great Ohio Desert in The Broom of the System in connection with Kierkegaard’s understanding of God, an absurdity at the foundation of selfhood.

Vernon W. Cisney is a visiting assistant professor of philosophy at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Derrida’s Voice and Phenomenon: An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide (Edinburgh, 2014); as well as Deleuze and Derrida: Difference and the Power of the Negative (Edinburgh, 2018). He is also the co-editor of Biopower: Foucault and Beyond (University of Chicago Press, 2015); The Way of Nature and the Way of Grace: Philosophical Footholds on Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life (Northwestern, 2016); Between Foucault and Derrida (Edinburgh, 2016); and Pierre Klossowski’s Living Currency Followed by Sade and Fourier (Bloomsbury, 2017).

*Room B – A Home Beyond: Spain, Junot Díaz, and Wallace’s Writing

José Manuel Romero Santos (Skype)

"Mi casa es tu casa": The Reception of David Foster Wallace's "La broma infinita" in Spain

Academic literature on the reception of David Foster Wallace's work in Spain is certainly scarce, the few available failing to set the foundation for the subject. In this paper, I will analyze the introduction of Wallace in Spain, as well as the reception of Infinite Jest, through the study of Spain's literary context in the 90s, the problems the translation of the novel into Spanish entailed, and Spanish readers' interests at that moment. Several considerations around Robert Escarpit's Sociology of Literary Facts will be of great importance in this study, as well as the personal interview as a method of collecting qualitative data.

José Manuel Romero Santos (Badajoz, 1991) holds a degree as an English language Teacher from the University of Extremadura (2013). In the University of Seville he got his Master's Degree in Creative Writing in 2014, and his PhD. in 2017 in the field of Communication with a thesis entitled "Las notas al margen en la producción literaria de David Foster Wallace" ("Footnotes and Endnotes in David Foster Wallace's Literary Production"). He is the author of the poems "Bournemouth 2012 d. C." (Ediciones en Huida, 2015).

10:00-11:15 – Saturday Morning Panels





*Room B – Wallace, Realism, and Politics

Jamieson Ryan


“War’s Codes are safer…than love’s”: Performing Masculinity in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest

In “Federer as Religious Experience”, Wallace notes how discussions of sport rely on war imagery and tend to ignore loving descriptions of the game. Wallace exhibits this tension in Infinite Jest, as players struggle between languages of love and war while exploring notions of masculinity, embodiment, and beauty.

Jamieson Ryan is a Ph.D. student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He studies Hockey literature, graphic novels, and the intersections of gender, nature, trauma, and national myths in sport.

Carly Yingst

"The Only Real Monsters": Reading Wallace's Field Guide to Lies and Liars

This paper examines the problem of the lie in Wallace’s work. Specifically, I look at the taxonomy of lies offered late in Infinite Jest, in relation to several theories of lying, including Derrida’s and Arendt’s. Along the way, I consider Wallace’s relation to both fake news and issues of fictionality.

Carly Yingst is a PhD student in English at Harvard University, where her research primarily focuses on the novel, narrative, and fiction in the long eighteenth century, with a particular emphasis on the Romantic period. Whenever she has a chance, though, she still enjoys reading and talking about Wallace.

Daniel Leonard

Mom's the Word: Meanings of Mariticide in Infinite Jest

Why does DFW make Hal suspect the Moms of killing JOI? I argue that the familial violence and distrust in Infinite Jest reflect the book’s broader concern with our era’s struggle to adapt to new forms of capitalism, virtuality, and time.

Daniel Leonard is a doctoral student in English literature at Boston University, where he also completed an MFA in creative writing. Thanks to DFW, Daniel gave up lobster and took up tennis. Daniel does things like get in a taxi and say, “The Wallace Conference, and step on it.”

11:20-12:30/12:45 – Saturday Morning Panels





Room A – Psychological and Spiritual Conceptions of Self in Infinite Jest

Jack Tyler

Sounds a Little Pious: Parallel Readings of Infinite Jest and John Donne's "Metempsychosis"

This presentation offers a parallel reading of Infinite Jest and John Donne's "Metempsychosis," arguing for a connection, however tentative, between the two works. Specifically, this presentation examines how the two authors explore issues of the self and soul, and the journey of the soul from this life to (possibly) the next.

Jack Tyler is a senior at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, AR, where he studies English literature and philosophy.

Rhett Farinholt

"I am in This Room": The Psychopharmacopeia of David Foster Wallace

In this paper I argue for the importance of psychopharmaceuticals to David Foster Wallace’s fiction, contending that psychopharmaceuticals supported his thematic interests in perception, loneliness, and American industrial excess.

Rhett Farinholt is a Ph.D. Candidate in Literature at the University of California, San Diego. He received his B.A. in American Literature and Culture from UCLA and his M.A. in Literature from California State University, Sacramento. Rhett has presented his research at conferences on a number of topics from the post WWII period, including the works of David Foster Wallace and Will Self.

Room B – The Nature of Reading and the “Difficult” Book

Danielle Ely

The Ideal Resisting Reader Meets the Ideal Novel

In the latter half of the 20th century, due in part by the novel’s supposed and at the same time anticipated death, there is increased anxiety over the novel’s displacement from centrality. Counterintuitively, we also bear witness to a search for the “ideal reader” and the “ideal novel.” It is amidst searches for the “ideal” that “the problem of difficult literature” arises. A “problem” which turns out to be organically connected to aesthetics of reception, audience, and reading.

Danielle S. Ely is an Adjunct Instructor of English at Columbia-Greene Community College, Dutchess Community College, Hudson Valley Community College, and the College of Saint Rose. She completed a Master's Thesis on Infinite Jest called "Into the Womb of Solipsism: The Entertainment as Speculum" in 2011. It is available on Proquest for free!

Peter Christensen

Everything and More … and More: How to Enjoy DFW’s Oddest Work

This paper will explore the literary and stylistic elements of Wallace’s arguably oddest work – Everything and More: A Compact History of ∞ (e.g., there are more footnotes than in Infinite Jest!). The arcane nature of the book provides a unique insight into Wallace’s approach to his writing at the time.

Peter is an avid reader of literature and an independent scholar of David Foster Wallace and his works. During the day, Peter is the manager of technology commercialization at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. He has an electrical engineering degree and a law degree.

Room D – (until 12:45) Teaching Wallace: Firsthand Accounts from Students and Teachers

Vernon Cisney

Daniel Shusset

Vera Ekhator

Mattelyn Wadley

Wallace in the Classroom: What We Have Learned

In the spring semester of 2018, I taught a course called 'Philosophical Ideas in Literature: David Foster Wallace.' On this panel are myself and six of my students from this class, each addressing the question, 'What do we have to learn from David Foster Wallace?'

Vernon W. Cisney is a visiting assistant professor of philosophy at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Derrida’s Voice and Phenomenon: An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide (Edinburgh, 2014); as well as Deleuze and Derrida: Difference and the Power of the Negative (Edinburgh, 2018). He is also the co-editor of Biopower: Foucault and Beyond (University of Chicago Press, 2015); The Way of Nature and the Way of Grace: Philosophical Footholds on Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life (Northwestern, 2016); Between Foucault and Derrida (Edinburgh, 2016); and Pierre Klossowski’s Living Currency Followed by Sade and Fourier (Bloomsbury, 2017).

12:30-12:50 – Saturday Wrap-Up

Refreshments, Reflection, and Fundraising

STV 133