Life Inside the Spectacle: David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, and Storytelling in the Age of Entertainment


John Hawkins

Publication Date

January 2012

Document Type



English Language and Literature


Dr. Prior was a reader on the committee for this thesis.


This project explores George Saunders's In Persuasion Nation and David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest as interventionary literature. The thesis asserts that the two works confront the problems of isolation and dehumanization created by entertainment-based consumerism; they do so by depicting satirically exaggerated consumer societies and placing well-developed, sympathetic characters in those settings. The thesis includes a consideration of Jameson and deBord's theories of spectacle and Wallace's stated concerns with postmodern irony as an ineffective form of critique.