Women’s Voices in the World of DFW

Written by Ashlie Kontos on behalf of the Diversity Team

A few weeks ago, I was listening to With Friends Like These in which Ana Marie Cox interviewed Anil Dash, a blogger and technologist.  In the interview, they discuss the year in which Dash refrained from retweeting men.  With over half a million followers on Twitter – a majority of whom are men – Dash felt a “growing sense of social responsibility about what messages I choose to share and amplify, and whose voices and identities I strive to bring to a broader audience” (n. pag.).  After doing some research, he found some startling, though not unexpected, data: “I followed a nearly equal ratio of women and men, but retweeted men three times as often as I retweeted women” (n. pag).  So, he decided to make a conscious behavioral adjustment: in 2013, Dash would only retweet women.  In doing so, he noticed that “I’ve been in far more conversations with women, and especially with women of color, on Twitter in the past year. That’s led to me following more women, and has caused a radical shift in how I perceive my time on Twitter, even though its actual substance isn’t that different” (emphasis added n. pag.).  Dash concludes his article about his year of re-tweeting women with an amiable incitement to the reader: “[i]f you’re inclined, try being mindful of whose voices you share, amplify, validate and promote to others” (n pag.).  Dash recognized that his activity on Twitter was opportunity for “giving a platform to women where I wasn’t able to mansplain the things they were already saying, but instead just sharing out their own thoughts in their own words” (n. pag.).

In an effort to follow in Dash’s footsteps – being mindful of whose voices we – the Diversity Team – share, amplify, validate, and promote – we have compiled the following lists of women writers and their relation to David Foster Wallace:

  1. Women’s scholarly pieces on DFW
  2. Women’s theses/dissertations on DFW
  3. Women whose work on DFW is available for free on Academia.edu!
  4. Women writers whom Wallace read/praised/taught
  5. If you like DFW, check out these female authors – recommendations from the Diversity Team

If there is a perceived lack of minority voices – women, POC, non-heterosexuals, non-academics, etc. – in the DFW community, it is our responsibility to validate and promote the minority writers who are engaging in scholarship and dialogues about DFW.  By no means are the lists presented here complete or exhaustive.  We would like to continue these efforts by gleaning more non-academic writings by women (from blogs, Reddit, Wallace-l, etc.), but this is our first attempt at establishing a bibliography of women’s writings on DFW.  We hope that these lists – not only serve as a reference for works by women on DFW – but also to encourage more women to take part in the larger conversation about DFW and his works.

We would love to hear from the community at large about any articles, theses, dissertations, videos, podcasts, etc. presented by women on DFW that we have missed and have not been included in these lists so that we can add them.  We would also love suggestions for the “If you like DFW, check out these female authors” list.

The lists are forthcoming in the upcoming weeks, so check back here or on Twitter @dfwsociety.

Cox, Ana Marie.  “Surprised you called me a feminist.”  With Friends Like These.  16 June 2017.
Dash, Anil.  “The Year I Didn’t Retweet Men: Being mindful of whose voices I amplify.”  Medium.  12 Feb. 2014.


1 thought on “Women’s Voices in the World of DFW

  1. Rob Reply

    Just chiming in to say this is a great idea. I tend to enjoy reading authors that DFW read and there are plenty of female authors in that group. From the BAE 07 that Wallace edited there is the Jo Ann Beard essay Werner that he loved and is one of the most gripping things I’ve ever read. There’s also an essay by Cynthia Ozick who Wallace called one of the three greatest living writers.

    Another idea generator for books to read is the syllabus from Pomona where six of the nine novelists he taught were women. They included:

    Renata Adler, Speedboat
    Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
    Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays
    Paula Fox, Desperate Characters
    Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
    Christina Stead, The Man Who Loved Children

    Plus there all the female authors in his library of annotated books at the Ransom Center.

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