In my talk at Emory yesterday I discussed nerds: the literary nerds David Foster Wallace and Junot Díaz, but also the ways in which their particular nerdish styles might tell us something about style and the digital humanities. Natalia Cecire wrote up a fantastic blog post fleshing these ideas out more fully and I think we’re on to something really interesting here. Here’s one really good bit, but I suggest you read the whole thing:
The term “nerdy,” of course, was ripe for questioning. As Ed had remarked in passing (and doubtless explores more deeply elsewhere), Wallace’s and Díaz’s respective nerdy networks were overwhelmingly male. And there’s a way in which DH’s identification with “nerdiness” taps very much into the version of nerd identity—seen also, if differently, in both Wallace and Díaz’s nerdinesses—that manifests as wounded (and defensive) masculinity. I argued in a previous post that the defensive posture at times characterizes discussions of DH, which occasionally even seems to borrow the language of struggle and resistance traditionally used by queer activists, activists of color, disability rights activists, feminists, etc., even while, in many institutional settings, magically turning out to be disproportionately white and male.
As I’m about to post on Natalia’s blog, I think there’s more fuel to add to the fire here: the question of “serious” literature and gender bias in reviewing and criticism, a question I’ve tackled before.