Dressing up the author: Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace branding their masculine authorial identities through fashion
Greene, Justin Russell
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This article explores the use of clothes and other accessories as markers of masculine authorial identity. Fashion and literature are contentious partners, with literature attempting to keep a firm distance from the popular trappings of the fashion world. However, writers have historically used fashion to create their identities beyond the printed word. This can be seen in examples such as Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain and the ways clothing items have become associated with their personae as men of letters. Contemporary writers are no different, yet many continue to exude ambivalence towards clothing having any effect on their images in the literary sphere. Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace are two examples of writers who downplay fashion’s role in their public images. Franzen and Wallace establish their positions at the forefront of American literature not only with their fiction and non-fiction works but also in the ways they adorn their bodies and present them within visual media. Nevertheless, both Franzen and Wallace perform as specific types of masculine authors through their fashion choices. Ultimately, they use fashion to brand their authorial identities in accordance with their literary output. Franzen’s and Wallace’s willing participation in the stylization of their images to meet the masculine standards of authorial identity reveals the preva-lence of gendered stereotypes regarding how authors should be represented within popular culture.