In March and April 2022, Humanities Texas held two webinars for English language arts teachers on teaching F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby and additional short stories.
The webinars aligned with the TEKS. The first webinar focused on teaching The Great Gatsby in its historical, biographical, and cultural context. Beginning with an overview of Fitzgerald’s life and how it influenced many of the themes in the novel (including self-creation, the desire for wealth, and self-destruction), the session covered the novel’s treatment of the “American Dream,” the Roaring Twenties, urbanization, social class, racism and the backlash against immigration, and the effects of World War I. Participants received primary and secondary sources (including multimedia material) to use in their own teaching.
The second webinar centered on formal analysis of the novel itself, including close readings of several passages and scenes and a discussion of the novel’s structure, narration, and symbolism. In addition, the session will examine three key short stories by Fitzgerald—“Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” “Winter Dreams,” and “Babylon Revisited”—and how they reflect and expand on the themes and techniques of Gatsby. Both webinars highlighted the most important takeaways for middle and high school students.
Like all Humanities Texas teacher programs, the webinars were content-based and teacher-centered, with an emphasis on developing effective pedagogical strategies.
Greg Barnhisel (Duquesne University) served as program faculty.
The institute schedule can be viewed here.
The institute was made possible with major funding from the State of Texas, with ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.