ALA Conference, Boston (May 23-26, 2013): Teaching David Foster Wallace (deadline 1/15/13)

full name / name of organization: 
Mary Holland, SUNY New Paltz
contact email: 

In recent years, attention to the work of David Foster Wallace, by readers of all kinds and at widely ranging scholastic levels, has grown dramatically. Increasingly, his work appears in classrooms on college (and even at times high school) campuses, as Wallace lovers and scholars introduce him to an ever-widening readership. Those of us who teach him know how much students enjoy grappling with his prose and ideas, and also how challenging his work is to illuminate for younger readers. And yet, as volumes of critical work on Wallace's fiction become abundant, no published work or organized panel focusing solely on how we teach Wallace has appeared. This panel intends to be a first step toward filling this gap in Wallace pedagogy.

Proposals for papers on strategies for teaching any of Wallace's work (novels, short stories, short story collections, essays, essay collections, interviews) are welcome. I would like to offer wide coverage of his work, rather than a narrow focus on his most-read _Infinite Jest_, however, so proposals on his less-known work will be especially welcome. Topics might be imagined as quite specific (as in classroom exercises involving one text) or more broad (such as approaches to teaching multiple texts over multiple class periods), but in all cases, detailed attention to one or more texts is desirable. Suggested possible topics include the following:

● strategies for teaching an innovative formal device used by Wallace in one story or across multiple short stories;
● explication of one or more particularly challenging and critically untouched story or stories;
● pairings of one or more of his essays with one or more of his works of fiction;
● pedagogical connections between or among two or more of his works of fiction;
● ways in which his works of fiction do and/or do not fulfill his agenda for fiction as articulated in his interview with Larry McCaffery in 1993;
● evidence that his sense of how fiction works, or what makes good fiction, changes throughout his writing career.

Please email, in a Word attachment, a 250-word abstract of your paper with a descriptive title, a brief bio, and contact information to Mary Holland at by January 15, 2013.