“Are You Suffering?”: Reading David Foster Wallace’s democratic literature through the vocabularies of Richard Rorty

Aguilar Vazquez, Antonio (2020) “Are You Suffering?”: Reading David Foster Wallace’s democratic literature through the vocabularies of Richard Rorty. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This dissertation aims to prove the existence of a democratic dimension in the oeuvre of the American writer David Foster Wallace. To do so, the thesis focuses on four of his works, with a chapter devoted to each. These texts are, in order of how they appear by chapter, the short story ‘Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature’ (2004), the novel Infinite Jest (1996), the nonfiction text is Signifying Rappers (1990), and the posthumous and unfinished novel The Pale King (2011).
The theoretical framework created to elucidate this democratic dimension is based on the philosophical work of the American Pragmatist Richard Rorty. Particular use is made of his concepts of Private and Public vocabularies, as developed in the books Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, (1979) Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, (1989) and Achieving Our Country (1997).
By demonstrating the democratic capacity of Wallace's literature, I also aim to show the civic capacities and intent of his texts. By this, I mean that Wallace’s texts aim to represent a democratic and civic belief to the reader and, at the same time, the texts themselves are attempts of civic participation aimed to influence the democratic conversation of the United States.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: David Foster Wallace, Richard Rorty, American pragmatism. postmodernism, American literature, Infinite Jest, The Pale King, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Philosophy and the, Mirror of Nature , Signifying Rappers.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Burn, Dr. Stephen J. and Benchimol, Dr. Alex
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Antonio Aguilar
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81755
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 May 2021 12:41
Last Modified: 11 May 2021 12:48
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81755
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81755

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