NA’s Ben Zimmerman ’19 Going to 2019 David Foster Wallace Conference
Newark Academy senior Ben Zimmerman is the lone high school student who will be attending the David Foster Wallace Conference in June, which explores the writing, influences and legacies of David Foster Wallace.
Ben has been doing a yearlong independent study with NA English Teacher Dr. Elizabeth LaPadula - who was his 8th grade English teacher - on the works of David Foster Wallace and T.S. Eliot. One of the subjects they explored is the strong affinity between the disciplines of philosophy and literature in these writers’ works.
“Although he mostly wrote fiction and more journalistic pieces, Wallace majored in philosophy in addition to English at Amherst, and his works frequently allude to philosophical issues, theories, and topics,” Ben said. “One of his short stories, ‘Good Old Neon’ is particularly notable for its showcasing of Wallace’s interest in the paradoxes of language and symbolic logic; I decided to focus my research here. I ended up working through a symbolic logic textbook recommended by Dr. Thayer, [Math Department Chair].”
The culmination of Ben’s independent study is his paper about “Good Old Neon” in which he addresses the claim made in the story that is symbolized in the language of quantificational logic, and thought the paper might qualify for inclusion at the annual David Foster Wallace Conference.
It was, and Ben will now be traveling with to Illinois shortly after his NA graduation with his eighth grade English teacher in toe thanks to a grant provided by NA. The conference takes place June 7-9 at Illinois State University in Normal, IL. The 16 other entries included those currently pursuing bachelors, masters or doctoral degrees, or have such degree already.
“I’m so grateful to Dr. LaPadula for not only making the time to add my independent study to her already-full teaching schedule, but for her willingness to attend the conference too,” said Ben.