This article argues that David Foster Wallace, across his career, was subtly invested in the possibilities for defining community value in varied structures of insurance, from the New Deal’s transformation of the welfare state to the neoliberal economics of for-profit health insurance. Historicizing Wallace and deciphering the overlooked ways in which he deploys economics, the article focuses on readings of “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way” (1989), “The Soul Is Not a Smithy” (2004), and “Oblivion” (2004), while also linking the latter two to the development of The Pale King (2011).


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