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Discussion questions on ‘This is Water’

Read the prompt questions for 'This is Water'
Three fish

In the next step, you’ll read the commencement address Wallace gave at Kenyon College in 2005. Think about the following questions as you read ‘This is Water’.

  1. How does Foster Wallace use the parables or stories to impact on his audience? 
  2. David Foster Wallace’s speech is clearly crafted and yet he manages to convey sincerity. How does he manage to balance rhetorical craft with sincerity?
  3. What does Wallace want to convey about thought, academic education and the “totally obvious” cliché?
  4. Wallace punctuates his speech with assurances that he is not preaching or providing a moral message. Is this true?
  5. What techniques does he use to engage his audience and get them to like and trust him?
  6. What does Wallace say about attention as a form of spirituality (or perhaps religion), and what do you think about what he says? 
  7. If ‘worship’ is defined as attending and constructing meaning, is it true that we all worship and that choosing what to worship is one of the most important tasks of adult life? 
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David Foster Wallace: Literature and Philosophy

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