Episode 14: Discussing David Foster Wallace with Josh Roiland and his class at the University of Maine



In this special episode we talk with Professor Josh Roiland and his class at the University of Maine. Roiland is Assistant Professor + CLAS-Honors Preceptor of Journalism in the Department of Communication and Journalism + Honors College. Roiland’s class this semester was called “Consider David Foster Wallace” and they read a TON of DFW work. As part of their class project, the students also created a really useful website about IJ called Consider Infinite Jest https://considerinfinitejest.wordpress.com/

Josh has written a lot about Wallace and here are a few of his pieces we mention in this episode:

·        "Getting Away from It All: The Literary Journalism of David Foster Wallace and Nietzsche's Concept of 'Oblivion'"Literary Journalism Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 2009, 89-105. (Revised and reprinted in The Legacy of David Foster Wallace, University of Iowa Press).

·        "The Fine Print: Uncovering the True Story of David Foster Wallace and the 'Reality Boundary'" Literary Journalism Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall 2013, 148-161. (Reprinted by Longreads; 10 Most Popular Exclusives of 2014).

·        "Spiritually Midwestern: What Middle America Meant to David Foster Wallace" published (w/essential footnotes maddeningly located on the side of the text) by A24 Film Studios "Just Words" site in conjunction w/the release of The End of The Tour. 

You can follow Josh Roiland on Twitter @JoshRoiland or check out his website: www.joshroiland.com 

SPECIAL THANKS are due to Justin Harlan-Haughey for his audio expertise.Thanks also to Robyn O’Neil, Parquet Courts, Josh Roiland, Derrek Schrader, Alex Abrahams, Emily McNair, Atticus Dennis, and Taylor Cunningham.


03:00 – Josh’s writing on Wallace

04:38 – Josh’s email intro to the class

06:34 – Class syllabus and reading list

08:38 – Reconciling Wallace’s death with his writing

10:21 – Starting the class with a discussion onsuicide

13:52 – Is Wallace’s writing autobiographical?

16:55 – The class on Twitter

18:20 – The Wallace community on Twitter

19:51 – When the class read Infinite Jest

21:35 – Meeting in different spaces

22:45 – The ending of Infinite Jest

24:35 – Is the graveyard scene real? What’s going onthere?

27:49 – Waiting for plotlines to converge

30:30 – Reading IJ in public

31:07 – The cliché of dudes/bros reading Infinite Jest

37:38 – The marginalization of journalism in Englishdepartments

39:06 – DFW’s exaggerations in non-fiction

40:25 – Your favorite Wallace piece?

48:24 – Your least favorite Wallace piece?

53:33 – How to teach Infinite Jest

55:25 – Class-created website about IJ

1:01:32 – What to read after Wallace?

1:05:15 – Your favorite Wallace character?

1:09:52 – Any huge takeaways from this experience?

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