Syllabus

Syllabus in PDF (8.29.12)

E 349S / LAH 350: David Foster Wallace
Fall 2012
T, TH 12:30–1:45 | CAL 419
Unique #35465 / 30063

Professor Heather Houser
office: PAR 228, 471.8766
email: houserh@mail.utexas.edu
hours: T 1:45-4:45 or by appt.

COURSE OVERVIEW & PROMISES 

This course covers the truncated career of David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), one of the most examined and lauded authors of his generation. We will read all of Infinite Jest (fasten your seat belts!) along with essays, short stories, and selections from his other two novels, Broom of the System and The Pale King. The following questions will motivate the course:

  • What is Wallace’s project for a new fiction? What is Wallace’s place in late 20th-century US literary history?
  • What are his positions on contemporary culture, media, and technology in the US? Can particular ways of reading and writing intervene in these domains?
  • How can the individual navigate the onslaught of information in the 20th-21st centuries through literature?

By the end of the semester, you’ll be able to:

  • Read analytically across an author’s body of work, and craft probing questions that participate in debates about his oeuvre.
  • Create compelling written responses to these questions by close reading, conducting careful research (if you choose), and integrating textual evidence.
  • Articulate opinions about the state and direction of contemporary fiction based on Wallace’s contributions to it.
  • Assess and revise your own and classmates’ writing through peer review.

My goal is for you to learn, make discoveries, have fun, and produce the best work possible. Please meet with me if you have concerns about your learning or are struggling with an assignment.

REQUIRED BOOKS

Books at the University Co-Op. Packet at Jenn’s Copies for $12.00 (2200 Guadalupe St., 473.8669).

If you prefer to download readings instead of buying the packet, you must bring them to class.

Course Packet
By David Foster Wallace:
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Consider the Lobster and Other Essays
Girl with Curious Hair
 Infinite Jest
The Pale King
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

EVALUATION     

I calculate your grade on a 1000-point scale that I convert to a letter grade at the end of the term. Numbers accord with letter grades as follows. (UT doesn’t recognize the grade of A+.)
A      =  940-1000 points
A-     =  900-939.999
B+    =  870-899.999
B      =  840-869.999
B-     =  800-839.999
C+    =  770-799.999
C      =  740-769.999
C-     =  700-739.999
D+   =  670-699.999
D      =  640-669.999
D-    =  600-639.999
F       =  0-599.999

RESPONSIBILITIES

I evaluate your thinking and learning through the activities below. Unless I announce otherwise, all reading and written work is due in class on the due date. I’ll provide guidelines for the assignments at least two weeks before they’re due.

ACTIVITY DUE POINTS
Preparation + ParticipationThis is a seminar. It thrives when everyone shows up and exchanges ideas. Here’s how you participate fully:Actively read texts before class. That means: note the language, voice, and structure of the text; respond to passages that strike or trouble you; ask questions.Listen to others and contribute ideas and questions. Do in-class writing and lead group work when relevant.Once during the semester, introduce the day’s reading and facilitate discussion. Always         150
Class Blog10 posts (250-300 words) required. More invited.10 comments (at least 100 words) on another’s post each time posts are due.Read all posts before coming to class on the day they’re due. Throughout semester. See schedule 100
2 Short Essays (draft + revision)Paper #1 (1000-1200 words)Paper #2 (1000-1200 words) Draft:
T 9/18
Final:
T 9/25Draft:
TH 10/11
Final:
TH 10/18
150150
Final Essay (draft + revision)

  1. Prospectus (~1 page)
  2. Essay (3000-3500 words)
  3. Presentation
 T 10/30 

Draft: T 11/27, Final T 12/11

T 12/4,
TH 12/6

50 

300

100

SCHEDULE OF READINGS & ASSIGNMENTS[1]

C  = Course packet, on Blackboard, and “Materials” section of blog
SFT = A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again                                                        GwCH = Girl with Curious Hair
CL = Consider the Lobster
IJ = Infinite Jest
BIHM = Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

 

 

READINGS

ASSIGNMENT DUE

Week 1

TH

8/30

×     Beginnings: What We Like, What We Are Like Meet w/ professor this week & next (optional)

Week 2

T

9/4

×     “A Supposedly Fun Thing…” (SFT) Information sheetReview syllabus, assignments

TH

9/6

×     “E Unibus Pluram” (SFT)×     “Interview with DFW,”  Larry McCaffery (C) Blog 1

Week 3

T

9/11

×     “Octet” (BIHM)×     “Lyndon” (GWCH)×    OPTIONAL  ”Lost in the Funhouse,” John Barth (C) Student-led Facilitations begin

TH

9/13

×       Broom of the System(handout)×       “Joseph Frank on Dostoevsky” (CL) Blog 2

Week 4

T

9/18

×     *Harry Ransom Center Visit
Meet in Lobby of HRC
Draft Paper #1

TH

9/20

×     Peer Review Workshop Peer Letters

Week 5

T

9/25

×     “Brief Interview #20″ (BIHM)×     “Consider the Lobster” (CL)×     “Incarnations of Burned Children” (C)×     “Good Old Neon” (C) Final Paper #1

TH

9/27

×     “How to Read Infinite Jest
×     Infinite Jest (1-68 + notes)[2]
 
Week 6

T

10/2

×     IJ (68-156) Blog 3

TH

10/4

×     IJ (157-227, stop after “CV”)

Week 7

T

10/9

×     IJ  (227-317)×     skim “Host” (CL) Blog 4

TH

10/11

×     IJ (317-379, stop at “…deep”) Draft Paper #2 (independent peer review)

Week 8

T

10/16

×       IJ (380-469)×       “The Intentional Fallacy,” Wimsatt & Beardsley (C) Blog 5

TH

10/18

×     *Harry Ransom Center Visit
Meet in Lobby of HRC
Final Paper #2

Week 9

T

10/23

×       IJ (470-549)×       “Forever Overhead” (BIHM) Blog 6

TH

10/25

×       IJ (550-648)

Week 10

T

10/30

×       IJ (648-719, stop at “…stones”) Blog 7Final Essay Prospectus

TH

11/1

×       IJ (719-785)

Week 11

T

11/6

×        IJ (785-845) Blog 8

TH

11/8

×       IJ (845-916, stop at “…lattice”)

Week 12

T

11/13

×       IJ (916-981) Blog 9

TH

11/15

×       Lipsky, “Lost Years & Last Days of DFW” (C)×       D.T. Max, “The Unfinished” (C)×       George Saunders, “Informal Remarks…” (C)×       Kenyon College Commencement Address (handout)

Week 13

T

11/20

×       The Pale King (5-6, 31-45, 68-87, 156-254) Blog 10

TH

11/22

THANKSGIVING – NO CLASS

travel safely. eat well

Week 14

T

11/27

×       The Pale King (255-311, 378-387, 412-416, 446-511, 539-540) Draft Final Essay

TH

11/29

×       Peer Review Workshop Peer Letters

Week 15

T

12/4

×       Presentations

TH

12/6

×       Presentations

Finals

T

12/11

Final Essay due (5pm, PAR 228

 

TECH DEVICES

No phones or laptops allowed. Tablets permitted for taking notes and consulting readings only. I’ll ban their use for everyone if I see anyone tweeting, emailing, facebooking, shopping, browsing, etc.

HONOR CODE

I invite discussion and exchange outside of class, but you must abide by the Honor Code, which reads:

“The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the University is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community.”

Plagiarizing and claiming credit for others’ work have serious consequences. Plagiarizing means using any words or ideas that are not your own without citing them. I encourage you to go through the library tutorial on plagiarism.

If you aren’t sure what constitutes dishonorable conduct, please ask me or consult the Academic Integrity site.

ABSENCES & LATE WORK

Attendance and participation are mandatory. After 3 absences, your final grade will drop 50 points (out of 1000) and continue to go down with each additional absence. After 9 absences, you cannot receive credit for the course. Habitual lateness will also lower your grade. If you have an illness or other emergency, please contact me immediately.

If you’re struggling with an assignment, request an extension at least two days before the deadline. For every day that an assignment is late, I reduce your grade by 1/3 (a B+ would become a B).

Special note on religious holy days: By UT Austin policy, you must notify me of your pending absence at least 14 days prior to the date of an observed holy day. If you miss a class or an assignment, you’ll be able to complete the missed work within a reasonable time after the absence.

Email Protocol

Email is our primary means of communication outside of class so check it daily for announcements, and I’ll respond to your messages in a timely manner in turn. Address emails in a respectful manner. Announcements will also be posted in relevant sections of Blackboard and our blog.

ON-CAMPUS RESOURCES

Take advantage of these! They’re for you.

×   Office Hours
Stop by PAR 228 1:45-4:45pm on Tuesdays or make an appointment if you can’t make it then.

×   Services

Documented Disability Support (SSB 4.206) Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Services for Students with Disabilities online or at 471-6259 or 232-2937 (video phone).

Undergraduate Writing Center (FAC 211) offers free, individualized, expert help with writing at any stage of the process. Appointments and walk-ins available.

Harry Ransom Center holds the archive of Wallace’s manuscripts, correspondence, and library. Also collects Wallace’s contemporaries and predecessors. (Two class visits scheduled.)

×   Books on Reserve at PCL (all 2 hours)

Understanding David Foster Wallace, Marshall Boswell
PS 3573 A425635 Z53

Conversations with David Foster Wallace, Stephen Burn
PS 3573 A425635 Z66

David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest: A Reader’s Guide, Stephen Burn
PS 3573 A425635 I543 2012

The Legacy of David Foster Wallace, eds. Samuel Cohen & Lee Konstantinou
PS 3573 A425635 Z73 2012

Consider David Foster Wallace: Critical Essays, ed. David Hering
PS 3573 A425635 Z487

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, David Lipsky
PS 3573 A42535 Z46 2010

Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity, Wallace
QA 9 W335 2003

Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will, Wallace
BJ 1461 T293 F38 2011

Oblivion, Wallace
PS 3573 A425635 O35 2004

This Is Water…, Wallace
LC 1011 W25 2009

×   Wallace Resources Online (Caveat: these might not be entirely accurate. Proceed with caution.)

Broom of the System Index
The Howling Fantods
Infinite Summer
Pale King Section Guide
Scene-by-scene Guide to IJ
Visualization of IJ Characters
Visualization of IJ Plot
Another ” ” ” “

×   Resources for General Literary Study

Cambridge History of American Literature (PS 92 .C24, multiple volumes by period and genre)

Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism (BH 39 .C62 1995; through LION)

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (PN 81 J64 2005; through Library Databases)

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (LB 2369 G53 2009 in PCL Reference & Help Desk)

MLA Style & Citation Guide, Purdue OWL (owl.english.purdue.edu/owl)

Oxford Companion to American Literature (PS 21 .H3 1995)

Oxford English Dictionary Online (through Library Databases)

Literature Online (LION) (through Library Databases)

 


[1] I may have to alter the reading schedule slightly. If you miss class, you’re responsible for finding out about schedule changes as well as the content of class discussion.

[2] Always read the endnotes as you go. Don’t save them until the end.

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