First Steps, Ideas to Get Started, and Points of Departure

Written by Diego Báez, Coordinator, Diversity Committee

My approach to Wallace scholarship and the world around DFW is from the perspective of a skeptical fanboy. Skeptical, because the work so self-consciously speaks to an audience that historically has already enjoyed a great deal off attention in literary and academic circles, which, you know. Still a fan, however, because I believe that, when further problematized, DFW’s work and critical sphere can appeal to a wider range of readers. A few initiatives that interest me:

  • Continue what seems to be an encouraging trend toward increased critique of DFW’s “blindspots” and problematics with race, gender, et c.
  • Offer intelligent, public responses to commentary depicting DFW readers as a monolithic hoard (like Why Literary Chauvinists Love David Foster Wallace, e.g.)
  • Ensure that conference panels, calls-for-papers, and publications reach diverse pools of potential contributors. Prevent, whenever possible, homogenous panels and bylines.
  • Employ non-traditional platforms and media, like a blog with reader response-type posts, and a social media presence that is actively and intentionally inclusive.
  • Support and collaborate with other grassroots literary arts communities, especially those that focus on black and brown folks, LGBTQIA+ interests, (dis)ability studies, et c.
  • Promote non-traditional artistic and scholarly contributions to DFW studies (Has anyone circulated a mixtape of the tracks discussed in Signifying Rappers?)
  • Create spaces for people who want to get involved: academic, artistic, online, or otherwise.

As a personal project, I’m interested in high school and university curricula; where and how DFW’s being taught, to whom, and maybe attempting to expose students to the work in ways they otherwise wouldn’t be. If you’re interested in collaborating on any of these efforts, please send an email to


Diego Báez is a coordinator of the Diversity Committee for the International David Foster Wallace Society. He has written about Wallace at Octopus Magazine and [Inter]sections. He lives in Chicago and teaches at the City Colleges.




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