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Fiction and Commercialization in David Foster Wallace’s Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way

University of Prešov, Slovakia

The paper sets out to conduct an analysis of representations of images of the journey, traveling and reunion in David Foster Wallace’s novella Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (1989). My primary scope is to examine the uses to which Wallace puts these images in dealing with such issues as the articulations between literature, television and consumerism. Looking at Wallace’s use of figures of authority (parents, teachers) and their impact on children and students, I intend to observe the relationship between different strands of postmodern writing by two different generations of postmodern authors. I thus intend to consider Wallace’s writing between the sensibility of the contemporary generation influenced by commercial televisual culture and the playful and parodic critique of postmodern practice that he formulates as illustrated by such authors as John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Donald Barthelme, William Gass and others. A secondary aim is to reflect on Wallace’s playful critique of the commercialization of traditional and modern myths associated with American cultural identity such as the American Dream, mobility and freedom.

commercialization, postmodern fiction, metafiction, parody, journey, writing, cultural identity, American dream, postmodern sensibility, consumerism



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