Seeming sincere : ironic implications on sincerity and authenticity in David Foster Wallace's "host" and the broom of the system
Tang, Aaron Wei Yao
Date of Issue2016
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Critics have lauded David Foster Wallace as a writer whose work represents a movement beyond postmodernism. The one quality of Wallace's work that critics have focused on is the sincerity of his writing. But what does writing sincerely entail? Drawing on Lionel Trilling's book on sincerity and authenticity, where he argues that the two are separate moral positions with attendant models of the self, this essay will explore how Wallace's writing conforms to Trilling's idea of sincerity in emphasizing engagement on a public level. Additionally, critics like Adam Kelly and Marshall Boswell do not consider the full implications of sincerity and authenticity in terms of selfhood and therefore conceives of Wallace's use of irony only in hierarchical terms. This essay will argue that Wallace uses irony more broadly, emphasizing the relational, differential and inclusive elements of irony that Linda Hutcheon argues more accurately defines irony than an understanding of irony as hierarchical.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University