Not Poetry: David Foster Wallace’s Syllabus

English 102 – Literary Analysis 1: Prose Fiction

UT-Austin houses the archives of author and teacher David Foster Wallace. They’ve made public some of his teaching materials from Illinois State University, including a syllabus and marked up copies of the texts he taught. The files are a bit small so it’s a little difficult to read, but I love the conversational tone of the syllabus – far more interesting than any syllabus I ever read or composed myself. There are a number of interesting lines. I’m struck by the emphasis on reading each text twice, “All reading assignments are two for one”. Perhaps my favorite: “Handwritten corrections on typed work (stuffed crossed out, added, words respelled) are not only accepted but encouraged, since they’re usually signs of sedulous proofreading. Better right than neat (as long as its readable).” If I were to go back into teaching I would have to at least try that rule out to see what results it brought.

Link courtesy of Open Culture where Josh Jones provides some of his thoughts on the materials.

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