SURF

Dylan Grant

Boxed In: Precarity and Affect in Coupland and Wallace

My project explores the intersection of notions of precarious labor with the depictions of office culture in the work of Douglas Coupland and David Foster Wallace. My approach focuses on the simultaneity of multiple conflicting forces as the driver of anxiety, an affliction that, at its root, results from uncertainty. The “turn” from the road of an earlier generation to the office suggests a turn from a “free” or open-ended life to a static existence, but we find in Coupland and Wallace office workers who are mobile and uprooted. The interior of the cubicle suggests a lonely, segregated professional existence, but the office also demands fraternity. In reading Coupland and Wallace in conversation with labor theorists such as Andrew Ross and Franco Berardi, I will be examining the conflicting nature of the contemporary office as a public space with ever increasing demands and ever decreasing returns

Message to Sponsor

Every writer has a mental notebook filled with ideas that never make it to the page. The biggest advantage SURF and the Anselm Fund provide is the time to explore a project that, without the financial and intellectual support this program offers, would probably remain just another what if project, confined to that fantasy Moleskine. I remain honored and grateful for this opportunity and the time and resources which accompany it, all of which provide me with a space to explore the intersection of literature and contemporary labor.
  • Major: English
  • Sponsor: Anselm SURF fellow
  • Mentor: Celeste Langan, English