Monday, July 1, 2019

DFW19: Queering David Foster Wallace Studies: A Diversity Roundtable

Andrea Laurencell Sheridan, Tom Winchester, Grace Chipperfield
Moderated by Ryan Edel
Friday, June 28, 2019, 1:00 PM — 1:50 PM

Queering David Foster Wallace Studies: A Diversity Roundtable

Like any other single-author scholarship, Wallace Studies does not always appear to be inviting to all scholars. Studying and even just reading Wallace comes with the baggage of the “cult of the white LitBro” and the backlash that comes with that (see: Amy Hungerford and Deidre Coyle just last year). With the rise of concerns over not only representation but fair and accurate representation, trigger and content warnings, and sensitivity readers, it’s unsurprising that the problematic parts of not only Wallace’s oeuvre but his readership and assumed community has come into question. Everyone at this conference is part of a welcoming community, and we deserve to pat ourselves on the back for that; but this welcoming community of scholars, readers, and writers is not the problem addressed by the likes of Hungerford and Coyle; the problem is the myth of the heteronormative White LitBro who, while he exists, is not necessarily the norm, especially for those of us who would spend our free time and limited funds to attend a conference like this one. At DFW17, the Diversity Team explored issues of gender at this roundtable, both in Wallace’s work and in the scholarship; last year at DFW18, the focus shifted to race. This year, Tom Winchester and Ándrea Laurencell Sheridan will explore issues of LGBTQ+ representation in the work and scholarship of David Foster Wallace, grounded in the largely heteronormative culture of the 1990s, when a great majority of his work was written. Should we ignore work that neglects to or improperly represents a particular cultural group? Or, like Clare Hayes-Brady said in last year’s keynote, is exclusion of an author or work from a syllabus or bookshelf a pointed decision as much as inclusion? Come chat about these and other issues at the DFW19 Diversity Roundtable, where we’d love to hear from all of you.

Ándrea Laurencell Sheridan is an Associate Professor of English at SUNY Orange. She is the Vice-President of the International David Foster Wallace Society and Board Member of the Journal of David Foster Wallace Studies. She has chapters due out in several books in the coming year. Ándrea is deeply committed to advocacy, especially for marginalized and underserved students. She will begin a PhD in Humanities at Salve Regina University this coming fall semester.

Tom Winchester is an artist and art critic in Saint Petersburg, Florida. He’s presented at DFW Con in previous years, and has published on the DFW Society Blog.

Grace Chipperfield is a Fulbright Scholar and PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Flinders University in South Australia. She is researching David Foster Wallace, fandom, and the reader experience. She serves on the board for The International David Foster Wallace Society and is an associate editor for The Journal of David Foster Wallace Studies.

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