Approaches to Teaching the Works of David Foster Wallace

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Stephen J. Burn, Mary K. Holland
Modern Language Association of America, Aug 1, 2019 - Literary Criticism - 205 pages

David Foster Wallace's works engage with his literary moment—roughly summarized as postmodernism—and with the author's historical context. From his famously complex fiction to essays critical of American culture, Wallace's works have at their core essential human concerns such as self-understanding, connecting with others, ethical behavior, and finding meaning. The essays in this volume suggest ways to elucidate Wallace's philosophical and literary preoccupations for today's students, who continue to contend with urgent issues, both personal and political, through reading literature.

Part 1, "Materials," offers guidance on biographical, contextual, and archival sources and critical responses to Wallace's writing. The essays in part 2, "Approaches," discuss teaching key works and genres in high school settings, first-year undergraduate writing classes, American literature surveys, seminars on Wallace, and world literature courses. They examine Wallace's social and philosophical contexts and contributions, treating topics such as gender, literary ethics, and the culture of writing programs.

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