Author(s)

John HawkinsFollow

Department

English and Modern Languages

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair

Matthew Towles

Primary Subject Area

Language, Rhetoric and Composition; Literature, General; Literature, American; Literature, Comparative; Literature, Modern

Keywords

David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Infinite Jest, irony, late capitalism, spectacle

Disciplines

Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, North America | Modern Literature | Rhetoric and Composition

Abstract

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.