Course Description

Welcome to American Fiction in the Twentieth Century

This course is devoted to the life and times of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940). We will explore the culture of the 1920s while reading Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, published in 1925.

Class Activities

A Japanese translation of the novel by Haruki Murakami will be available for students to read in the first few weeks of the course.

To get a feel for the period and the story, we will watch and discuss the 1974 film adaptation of the novel, directed by Jack Clayton and starring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, and Sam Waterston. We will also discuss the most recent adaptation, Baz Luhrman’s gorgeous 3D interpretation released in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Macguire.

We will go through the text chapter by chapter with students divided into reading groups and members assigned particular reading tasks.

There will be weekly class discussions of the reading, quizzes, short presentations, and lectures on the novel, on Fitzgerald and his life as well as the history and culture of the 1920s.

Optional depending on time: In addition to a short essay on an aspect of the novel, students will form groups and create a short podcast on the culture of the 1920s in America, including such topics as music, fashion, race relations, and immigration, among others.

Course Evaluation

  • Tests and Class participation: 30%
  • Reading Journal: 30%
  • Radio Documentary Project: 20% (If this project is dropped, 10% will be added to the reading journal and the term essay.)
  • Term Essay: 20%

Download the Course Description for 2016 (PDF format 98 KB)