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Research Fundamentals: David Foster Wallace - Authority and American Usage

A guide to print and online resources for starting your research.

The rest of the essay. . .

Bartholomae and Petroskey provide a summary of the last part of the essay in Ways of Reading.

The complete essay is available in the book, Consider the Lobster: and Other Essays

"Authority and American Usage" was originally published in Harper's Magazine, April 2001, under the title, "Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars over Usage."

DMC Studio

Want to create a multimedia presentation as part of your assignment?

The DMC Studio provides services, technologies, and instructional support for recording, digitizing, and editing audio, video, and image resources, enabling you to create new digital scholarly work.

Biographical Materials

Read about the life and work of David Foster Wallace or learn more about his work in

Biography in Context

Literature Resource Center

Philosopher's Index

David Foster Wallace


 Big Think  article by Jason Gotts on David Foster Wallace, English Teacher

There is a link to his syllabus in the Take a Break box.

Subject Guides

The Library offers a number of discipline-based Subject Guides to help you locate resources.  Which Subject Guides might assist you?

Some possibilities include:

Literature and Composition


What other topics are covered in this essay?

Searching for books and articles



Take a Break

In footnote 6, DFW writes about teaching college English part-time

 "Every August I vow silently to chill about usage this year, and then by Labor Day there's foam on my chin." 

Check out a copy of his syllabus for English 102-Literary Analysis: Prose Fiction Fall '94.


Learn more about the concepts of writing, education, and language.  Some possibilities include:

Encyclopedia Britannica

International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Primary Sources

Review question:  What is a Primary Source?

Watch a portion of an interview with David Foster Wallace on education, learning and life.


Review question:  What is a scholarly article?

Try the Library's Discovery service for a Google-style approach to searching. 

Not sure where else to look?  Look for selected article search tools in Research Guides by Subject