DFW Meets Bart Simpson: Part II

I am strangely, stupidly optimistic at the start of every college term in which I teach.  I’m excited, because even though some students find reading and grammar and English boring, there are topics discussed that everyone has an opinion on.  I look forward to those discussions.  I like the diversity and the argument. I like to see my students act like they care about something, even if it’s just that they got to watch a Simpsons episode in class.

Yes. That’s right.  I had them watch A Totally Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again, right after I had them read an excerpt from the David Foster Wallace essay it is based on.  Again, the phrase ‘stupidly optimistic’ is perfect here.


Here are the (imagined) responses from students after reading David Foster Wallace and watching the Simpsons.

“He [DFW] needs to get over his fear of sharks.  He’s a grown ass man!”

“I didn’t read the essay but I think he would have had a better time if he had gone with a friend.”


“And so but what does he mean….”

“All this guy talks about is how bad the cruise is and how he’s suicidal. He should have saved his money. Or jumped off.”

“Wait— the guy who wrote the essay is Bart?!! I never knew Bart was such a good writer.”

“The writer is that guy in a fake tux with all the stubble?  He don’t look like no writer.”

“Can we write our essay on the Simpsons?”

“Can we take a class field trip and go on a cruise?”

“Wait, what?”

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