Consider Society.docx - Sebastian Camacho Professor...

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Sebastian Camacho Professor Livingstone Writing the Essay 16 December 2016 Consider the Essay Genre “My point is that people who really care about the forms – the serious writers and readers in fiction–don’t want all the forms ‘broken,’ they want variation that follows the essence to emerge in new ways” (Wallace 1993). In an interview with Larry McCaffrey, David Foster Wallace comments on how genres, in his case the essay genre, can be predictably constrictive by saying that “they (fans/readers) really know the formulas and the elements, so they also can respond to the constant, built-in meta-games and intertextualities going on in all genre forms” (Wallace 1993) . David Foster Wallace presents his essay collection Consider the Lobster as his effort to challenge the essay genre’s constricted format including an essay’s organization, titles and, especially, its use of footnotes. Wallace continues his challenge in mentioning how “in a way the responses are aesthetically sophisticated in the sense that it’s the infinite variations-on-a- theme that interests them. I mean, how else can they read a million of these things (real genre fans are not stupid people necessarily)?” (Wallace 1993) . Society has categorized essays into certain expected conventions. Through the use of his non-conforming writing style and social commentary on unusual topics, he not only attempts to subvert expectations of the essay genre but also attempts to weave it together into the turbulent form of art that it should be. David Foster Wallace exemplifies this throughout most of his essay collection, which includes a variety of topics ranging from a tennis player's autobiography to the riveting “Adult Video News Awards” to the devaluation of a lobster’s life. At first glance, these topics are
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completely unrelated but the underlying similarity between all these works is that they are first- hand accounts or reviews published throughout his career that work together in challenging the conventions hindering essay writing from being non-subservient to the standard academic language. Conventions set in essay writing vary extensively but the titles of essays in Consider The Lobster were significant to Wallace’s challenge against the norms in essay writing. With expertise in higher education and educational assessment, Professor Dai Hounsell defines this literary convention in essay titling in "Contrasting Conceptions of Essay-Writing". Through research experiments and historical analysis, Hounsell finds that “titles are announced well in advance and allow some measure of choice” (Hounsell 111). She also finds that the “material is assembled in relation to the topic assigned rather than a point of view to be advanced” (Hounsell 111). David Foster Wallace challenges this convention by titling his essays with implied themes that allow him to mislead readers towards topics different to the expectations set by the title. For
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