Only Connect: The Virtual Communities of Gertrude Stein and David Foster Wallace
My dissertation compares Modernist imaginations and applications of early radio with Late Postmodernist imaginations and applications of the early internet. The American authors that I focus on and compare in my dissertation are Gertrude Stein, a Modernist, and David Foster Wallace, a Late Postmodernist.
My dissertation asserts that Stein and Wallace each incorporate the techno-cultural imaginations and feelings of community through the democratic poetics and aesthetics of their work. Both Stein and Wallace engage with facilitating literary communities that form around emerging mass media––for Stein, the radio, and for Wallace, the blog––and provoke readers to participate in auto/biographical practices as a mode of discussing American identity, community, and democracy. Where the orality of Stein’s texts invites readers’ auto/biographical engagement, Wallace’s written depictions of mental health, addiction, and loneliness prompt readers to share auto/biographical narratives/disclosures related to those topics in the reading group discussions.
Altogether, my dissertation engages with a unique media archeological combination of literary analysis, media studies, and critical media production in order to suss out the dynamic exploration of identity, community, and democratic participation these authors and their readers feel for within the mediascape of their respective eras.