Class and Marxism

Class and Marxism

Project description
Task: Show how ideas (Class and Marxism) encountered (in the extracts/essays from Georg Lukacs, Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat (1919-22)) has developed your understanding of the Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

Word Limit: 1750- 2000

In this assignment you should demonstrate understanding of one of the ideas encountered in the extracts/essays by theorists and show that you can use this idea to discuss a literary text. There is no set way to tackle this assignment, but you must introduce the ideas with direct reference to the source (Georg Lukacs, Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat (1919-22)) and then use this idea to explain something about the novel ( The Great Gatsby).

This assessment gives you the freedom to write about what you find interesting, but your essay should do the following:

Discuss the extract/essay by Lukacs
Use appropriate theoretical terms accurately
Offer sustained close reading of Great Gatsby
Draw on other critical secondary reading

Great Gatsby:


1- How do literary texts represent class identity and to what extent do they intervene in struggles for power, status, and authority between classes? To what extent can we identity the class politics of an author or text?. consider these questions by reading the classic novel of the American Dream, F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby (1922): the story of an upwardly mobile working-class American, which is narrated by a conflicted member of the American middle class.

2- We will refine and extend our understanding of class as represented in The Great Gatsby by focusing on two secondary sources: an extract from a pioneering work of Marxist theory by Georg Lukacs which develops the idea of reification; and a recent critique of Fitzgeralds novel by
Richard Godden, which applies this concept and uses it to decode the class struggles hidden below the surface of the text.

Essential Reading (resources):

– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

– Robert Dale Parker, Marxism, in How to Interpret Literature.

– Georg Lukacs, Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat (1919-22).

– Richard Godden, Money and Things: Capitalist Realism, Anxiety, and Social Critique in Works by Hemingway, Wharton, and Fitzgerald. In Matthews, J. (ed) (2009) A Companion to the Modern American Novel. Wiley-Blackwell.


– Historical context for Fitzgeralds novel: the American Dream, class divisions, and the commodity culture of the 1920s.

– Introduction to some key terms of Marxist theory (surplus value, the commodity, class struggle).

– Fitzgeralds class location and the class politics of The Great Gatsby.

– The Great Gatbsy: the romance of America and the reality of class struggle in the 1920s.


– Discussion of Parker, Marxism.

– Close reading of The Great Gatsby and discussion of historical context.

– Close reading of The Great Gatsby: reification and class struggle in the text.

By the end, you should:

– Have a basic understanding of some key concepts of Marxist theory.

– Be able to give an account of how The Great Gatsby represents the consumer culture of the 1920s.

– Have a basic understanding of the concept of reification.
– Be able to paraphrase Goddens account of The Great Gatsby and evaluate its relevance and significance.

– Have a basic understanding of the relationship between commodities and classes in Fitzgeralds novel.

– Be able to identify and analyse textual details in relation to concepts of commodity and class.

The Great Gatsby resources:

Berman, R. (1996) The Great Gatsby and Modern Times. Urbana, Ill: University of Illinois Press.

Bruccoli, M. (ed.) (1985) New Essays on Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Curnutt, K. (ed.) (2004) A Historical Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Godden, R. (2008) Fictions of Capital: The American Novel from James to Mailer.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, UP.

Prigozy, R. (ed.) (2001) The Cambridge Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tredell, N. (1999) F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby. New York: Columbia University Press.

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