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Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

2. Class Divisions and Energy Transfer

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about how we can understand class divisions in the novel, focusing in particular on how the higher-class characters (e.g. Tom Buchanan) appears to suck energy from those lower down the social scale.


In this course, Dr William Blazek (Liverpool Hope University) explores F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby. We being by thinking about the concept of the American Dream, focusing in particular on how some of the major characters in the novel operate within the expectations of this key American myth of success. In the second module, we think about how we can understand class divisions in the novel, focusing in particular on how characters from the upper class (e.g. Tom Buchanan) appear to sap or steal energy (or ‘vitality’) from those lower down the social order (e.g. Myrtle Wilson). After that, in the third module, we think about the presentation of social mobility in the novel, as well as some of the new technologies that represent the new world order of the early 1920s: the automobile and the telephone. In the fourth module, we think about narrative technique and style, before turning in the fifth module to consider the reception of the Great Gatsby and its enormous impact on twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature, theatre, ballet and opera.


William Blazek completed his undergraduate study in Minnesota and then conducted postgraduate research in Anglo-American literature at the University of Aberdeen and the University of East Anglia. He taught at the University of New Orleans, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Glasgow before coming to Liverpool Hope University in 1991. His teaching at Liverpool Hope includes the nineteenth-century literature course American Classics and the final-year core-course Modernism, as well as the MA modules Literary Theory and Criticism, The Literature of the First World War, and American Modernism. He serves as the Department of English research coordinator and postgraduate-research coordinator.

A member of the executive board of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, he is also a founding co-editor of The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review (2002-present) and co-editor of the essay collections American Mythologies (with Michael K. Glenday, Liverpool UP 2005) and Twenty-First-Century Readings of ‘Tender Is the Night’ (with Laura Rattray, Liverpool UP 2007). His research interests include American literature since 1800, Anglo-American modernism, war literature, and Native American writing. His recent and forthcoming publications include essays and articles on the work of Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Edith Wharton, and he is writing a monograph on the themes of work, love, and war in Fitzgerald and Wharton’s fiction. As a Director of Studies for PhD students, he has supervised research on F. Scott Fitzgerald, Saul Bellow, and other twentieth-century authors, as well as war literature and the WWII photography of Lee Miller. He would be especially interested in supervising postgraduate research on American literature and culture, First World War literature, and modernism.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Blazek, W. (2018, August 15). Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby - Class Divisions and Energy Transfer [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Blazek, W. "Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby – Class Divisions and Energy Transfer." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,