English Department to Honor David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace

The Department of English at Illinois State University will hold a memorial service for author and former ISU professor David Foster Wallace on Saturday, November 1, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. in the Old Main Room of the Bone Student Center on the ISU campus. Wallace was recruited to ISU in 1993 by then English Department chair Charles Harris. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses in creative writing, language, and literature. Before leaving in 2002, he had been promoted to professor, named Outstanding College Researcher by the College of Arts and Sciences, and named Outstanding University Researcher.  He is the critically acclaimed author of two novels, The Broom of the System (1987) and Infinite Jest (1996), three collections of stories, Girl with Curious Hair (1989), Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1999), and Oblivion (2004), two collections of essays, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (1997) and Consider the Lobster (2005), and two nonfiction works, Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present (1990, with Mark Costello) and Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity (2003).

It was during his time at ISU that Wallace moved from being an exceptionally promising newcomer to a central figure in contemporary literature. The publication of Infinite Jest, a nearly 1,100-page novel about tennis, addiction, movies, language, and the challenges of being human in contemporary America, brought him international attention. Among the many honors he received for his work was the MacArthur Foundation grant, the so-called genius award. He was, as well, a brilliant, challenging, and inspiring teacher. George Christo, ISU graduate and now in the English Department at Indiana University-Indianapolis, remembers, “he was probably the single most revered person at ISU in the eyes of English grad students and what we all aspired to someday become.” 

The memorial service will feature remembrances and tributes from fellow authors, colleagues, and former students.
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