The Western Ecologies of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Cook, Jordan, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wicke, Jennifer, Department of English, University of Virginia

A nuanced reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literature potentially brings to the fore environmental concerns through matters of ecology, such as land use, regionalism, and habitat. Through an ecocritically valenced textual examination of three short stories set in the American West, I aim to show the value of reading Fitzgerald’s work through the lens of environmental criticism and as somewhat prophetic to contemporary arguments of the catastrophe of climate change in the Anthropocene. I will consider issues of self-invention in “Winter Dreams,” attention to regionalism in “The Ice Palace,” and the foreshadowing of ecotastrophe in “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.” While the rich ecologies created within these stories have various results, they often center on the idea of human-nonhuman intertwinement and eventual destruction. In this way, Fitzgerald’s literature offers insight into how the various ecologies of 1920s America were a part of producing both the local and global environments of today.

MA (Master of Arts)
ecology, American modernism, environmental criticism, Anthropocene, ecocriticism
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