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The Great Gatsby--A Cultural Approach to the Novel  

This guide will help Mr. Stegemoeller's English 11 classes find scholarly sources for research focusing on the cultural aspects of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby.
Last Updated: Mar 4, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Researching Culture of the 1920s

It might be helpful to contemplate the "culture" of the 1920s in terms that reflect the era itself; be certain to use these terms to access the information you need from Green Library's databases as well as indexes to print sources.  Some key words and phrases which might help you as you read, think, and do your research are listed below. 

Be sure and review the Primer in Boolean logic tab on the Green Library welcome page; it will guide you through the process of narrowing terms and therefore the number of significant results you retrieve.

Post-WWI generation

The Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties

Urban Corruption

The Black Sox Fix of 1919

Political machines


Destructive materialism

Social aspirations of the middle class

Desire of Americans for fabulous wealth

Gangland slayings

Extravagant parties


Availability of alcohol/liquor; prohibition

Absolute power

Sense of predetermined destiny

Role of fate and fortune


Relevant Cultural Essays

"The Essential Houses of The Great Gatsby" by W. T. Lhamon

"Photography and The Great Gatsby" by Lawrence Dessner

"The Great Gatsby:  Fitzgerald's Meditation on American History" by Kermit W. Moyer

"The World as Ash Heap" by James E. Miller

"A New World, Material Without Being Real:  Fitzgerald's Critique of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby:   by Ross Posnock

"Money, Love, and Aspiration in The Great Gatsby" by Matthew J. Bruccoli

"Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby" by Thomas Gibbs

"Style as Politics in The Great Gatsby" by Janet Giltrow

"Desire's Second Act:  'Race' and The Great Gatsby's Cynical Americanism" by Benjamin Schreier

"Scott Fitzgerald's Criticism of America" by Marius Bewley

"White Skin, White Mask:  Passing, Posing, and Performing in The Great Gatsby" by Meredith Goldsmith

"Material Without Being Real:  Photography and the End of Reality in The Great Gatsby" by Laura Barrett

"Possessions in The Great Gatsby" by Scott Donaldson

"The Great Gatsby as a Business Ethics Inquiry" by Tony McAdams

"Fitzgerald's Use of American Architectural Styles in The Great Gatsby" by Curtis Dahl

"Ethnicity in The Great Gatsby" by Peter Gregg Slater

"Owl Eyes in The Great Gatsby" by Riley V. Hampton

"The Great Gatsby:  Glamor On the Turn" by Richard Godden

"The Allusive Past:  Historical Perspective in The Great Gatsby" by John Rohrkemper

"Gatsby:  False Prophet of the American Dream" by Roger L. Pearson


Videos: The Great Gatsby in Historical Context

To get you thinking about The Great Gatsby, the Jazz Age, and F. Scott Fitzgerald and his times, you may wish to review these videos ranging from the earliest film addaptation of the novel to a brief expose of the Roaring 20's.


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