Pictures of three of David Foster Wallace's books

Infinite Jest: Bookends


This course was available in the past and may be presented again as part of the Open Enrollment curriculum.

This course is meant to prepare us for a delightfully challenging two-quarter adventure – diving into David Foster Wallace’s gigantic Infinite Jest (1996). We’ll discuss Wallace’s seminal works preceding and following Infinite Jest. We begin with Wallace’s entertaining first novel, The Broom of the System (1987), whose endearingly vulnerable characters evoke laughter, sympathy, and concern about the future of humanity. We’ll continue with a representative selection of short stories from Girl with Curious Hair (1989) and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1999) as well as essays from Consider the Lobster (2005). Finally, we’ll discuss chapters from Wallace’s unfinished novel, The Pale King (2011), about the IRS and the nature of boredom.


Course Outline



  1. David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System. Penguin, 1987. ISBN: 978-0143129448
  2. David Foster Wallace, Girl with Curious Hair. Norton, 1996. ISBN: 978-0393313963
  3. David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Back Bay Books, 1999. ISBN: 978-0316925198
  4. David Foster Wallace, The Pale King, Back Bay Books, 2012. ISBN: 978-0316074223


RECOMMENDED BOOKS (links and handouts to the selected essays are available in Canvas)

  1. David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Back Bay Books, 1997. ISBN: 978-0316925280
  2. David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster. Back Bay Books, 2006. ISBN: 978-0316013321
  3. David Foster Wallace, Both Flesh and Not, Back Bay Books, 2012. ISBN: 978-0141046754



D. T. Max, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story. A Life of David Foster Wallace. Viking Penguin. 2013. ISBN 978-0147509727


Online registration deadline: Thursday, Sept 22 at 5 PM CT.

No class Nov 23