White Guys: Questioning Infinite Jest's New Sincerity

Joel Roberts, Edward Jackson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article questions the idea that David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest instigates new forms of sincerity. We begin by scrutinizing the theoretical underpinnings of Adam Kelly’s influential reading of such ‘New Sincerity’. Firstly, we argue that this theory misconstrues Jacques Derrida’s notions of iterability and undecidability. It does so in order to corral their implications within an elitist understanding of the ‘literary’ text. Secondly, we argue that Kelly’s reading ignores how Infinite Jest’s supposed New Sincerity is geared exclusively towards the novel’s white male characters. Through close readings of the novel’s often celebrated AA scenes, and by drawing on the work of political and cultural theorist Denise Ferreira da Silva, we then show how this process works at the expense of black and female characters. By
    addressing how forms of racist and sexist exclusion constitute the novel’s apparent New Sincerity, we argue that this reading works to restore white men to positions of representative cultural authority.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalOrbit: A Journal of American Literature
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2017

    Bibliographical note

    © 2017 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use,
    distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See


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