The Pale King and the “Cowboys of Information”

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Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 20174:00PM - 5:30PM208N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
M5S 3K7
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CSUS and F. Ross Johnson Distinguished Speaker Series


In 1997-98, David Foster Wallace took three accounting classes at Illinois State University as part of the research for what became The Pale King, his posthumously published, unfinished novel about IRS accountants. His notes for these classes include, in block capitals, the statement “ACCOUNTANTS ARE COWBOYS OF INFORMATION.” This talk draws on archival research at the Harry Ransom Center (at the University of Texas at Austin), arguing that The Pale King is not only a book about “cowboys of information” at the Peoria IRS Regional Center; it is also a book that required its author and its editor—as well as its readers—to act as cowboys of information, corralling a large and increasingly unwieldy body of data into something meaningful.

Philip Sayers is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Toronto, and a Junior Fellow at Massey College. He holds a BA in English from Cambridge and an MA in Comparative Literature from University College London, and specializes in twentieth century and contemporary Anglophone prose, psychoanalysis, and continental philosophy.


Stella Kyriakakis


Philip Sayers
PhD candidate in English at the University of Toronto; Junior Fellow at Massey College

Main Sponsor

Centre for the Study of the United States


CSUS Graduate Student Workshop, University of Toronto


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