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Literature fans understand why The Great Gatsby ranks among the greatest of Great American Novels.
What they may not appreciate are F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 180 short stories, which appeared in America’s most popular periodicals between 1919 and 1940. This three-part course examines the trio of tales Fitzgerald wrote about Tarleton, Georgia, a fictional version of Montgomery, Alabama, the hometown of wife, Zelda Sayre. Recently collected in All of the Belles, the stories are indicative of how the magazines they appeared in portrayed American life in the 1920s. Long before Netflix or Amazon Prime, short stories were mass entertainment, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, among the highest-paid of its practitioners, was the genre’s Ryan Murphy or David E. Kelley: a supreme craftsman who knew how to delight a broad “middlebrow” audience.
January 22: The Saturday Evening Post and “The Ice Palace”: In 1920 when Fitzgerald broke into the era’s largest-circulation magazine, he gave a jolt of youth and sass to a staid publication kids thought only parents could like. Explore the Post’s place in American culture and how Fitzgerald’s story helped update its appeal without subverting it.
January 29: Metropolitan Magazine and “The Jelly-Bean”: While the Post promoted middle-class values, chicer outlets such as Metropolitan Magazine sold its under-thirty demographic glitz and glamour. Although Fitzgerald’s second Tarleton tale is about a Southern slacker trying to win over a country-club belle, it assured hinterland readers they could be as sophisticated as any cosmopolitan clique.
February 5: Southern Nostalgia and “The Last of the Belles”: In 1929 Fitzgerald returned to Tarleton after a tumultuous decade. This session examines how the most mature of the three stories perpetuates an image of the South as a guardian of “lost” American values that was prevalent both in the Post and in more niche literary periodicals. Southern nostalgia allowed a country barreling toward the Great Depression to protest cultural change, perpetuating racial oppression in ways America still grapples with today.
Along with reading these three stories, participants will also explore online resources for diving even deeper into popular magazine fiction of the 1920s!
This program will take place live online with an opportunity to interact with the instructor. Sessions will be recorded and made available to patrons for later viewing.
Class will take place on Fridays, January 22, 29, and February 5 from 12-1:30 pm ET.
Purchase All of the Belles.
Programs taking place online:An access link will be emailed to you after purchase.
Programs taking place in our NYC facilities:Please read our safety guidelines before visiting our building.
Programs taking place online and in our NYC facilities:Please select which experience you wish to participate in when registering. Online participants will be emailed an access link after purchase. In-person participants should read our safety guidelines before attending the program.
Kirk Curnutt is professor and chair of English at Troy University. He serves as the executive director of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society and as managing editor of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Review, published by Penn State University Press. He is the author of several volumes of literary criticism and fiction. Most recently, he wrote the introduction to All of the Belles: The Montgomery Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (New South Books), which collects for the first time the trilogy of short stories that Fitzgerald wrote about Montgomery, Alabama, the hometown of his wife, Zeld ...
Kirk Curnutt is professor and chair of English at Troy University. He serves as the executive director of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society and as managing editor of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Review, published by Penn State University Press. He is the author of several volumes of literary criticism and fiction. Most recently, he wrote the introduction to All of the Belles: The Montgomery Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (New South Books), which collects for the first time the trilogy of short stories that Fitzgerald wrote about Montgomery, Alabama, the hometown of his wife, Zelda Sayre. He also edited the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Fitzgerald’s Flappers and Philosophers, which celebrated its centennial in September 1920. As part of the ongoing commemoration of the Roaring Twenties’ 100th anniversary, Curnutt currently co-hosts a podcast on Fitzgerald’s short-story career called “Master the 40.”
Kirk Curnutt: F. Scott Fitzgerald and the American Popular Short Story
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, and the Jazz Age