Habit-forming : reading Infinite jest as a rhetoric of humility


Habit-forming : reading Infinite jest as a rhetoric of humility

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dc.contributor.advisor Davis, D. Diane (Debra Diane), 1963-
dc.creator Gerdes, Kendall Joy
dc.date.accessioned 2011-07-26T15:11:18Z
dc.date.available 2011-07-26T15:11:18Z
dc.date.created 2011-05
dc.date.issued 2011-07-26
dc.date.submitted May 2011
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2152/ETD-UT-2011-05-3505
dc.description.abstract In this project, I argue that David Foster Wallace's 1996 novel Infinite jest (or IJ) is both about recovering from addiction through humility, and also it produces that humility in some of its readers by making us feel ourselves to be addicts to a certain kind of reading: a reading to find closure, certainty, and resolution. But, in frustrating the desires for closure, certainty, resolution, etc., IJ denies readers the satisfaction of completing the fix. It is precisely this denial that prompts readers to re-read, repeating the structure of addiction--but also destructuring it, by installing habits of reading that pleasure in the failure to close, the uncertainty, the impossibility of resolution--habits which I treat as humility. Following a thread in the performative theory of J.L. Austin, Jacques Derrida, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, I clear space for reconceptualizing the performative utterance through an unusual example of a performative utterance: I take IJ to be the utterance of humility. Drawing on Avital Ronell's "narcoanalysis" in Crack wars, I argue that IJ's performative or substantializing work is in exploiting one kind of habit (addiction) in order to replace it with another (humility). The rhetorical transformation (to humility) effects itself through IJ's performative formation (in the reader) of the humbled habit. This project is a reading of a performative utterance (IJ) that produces a rhetorical effect, which effect is the formation of the habit of humility.
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso eng
dc.subject David Foster Wallace
dc.subject Addiction
dc.subject Rhetoric
dc.subject Humility
dc.subject Performativity
dc.subject Habit
dc.subject Habit-breaking
dc.subject Infinite jest
dc.title Habit-forming : reading Infinite jest as a rhetoric of humility
dc.date.updated 2011-07-26T15:11:22Z
dc.identifier.slug 2152/ETD-UT-2011-05-3505
dc.contributor.committeeMember Cvetkovich, Ann
dc.description.department English
dc.type.genre thesis
dc.type.material text
thesis.degree.department English
thesis.degree.discipline English
thesis.degree.grantor University of Texas at Austin
thesis.degree.level Masters
thesis.degree.name Master of Arts

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