Thursday, April 19th, 2018...5:54 pmMarissa

Final Project Ideas

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I was thinking about doing my final project on either The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald or My Ántonia that we are reading in class by Willa Cather. I have not yet decided which I think will go better, but I have some ideas about each.

If I do The Great Gatsby, I would connect the book to privilege. I think that this could be interesting because Jay Gats has wealth and privilege, but I’m not really sure how I could connect this. He definitely has privilege because he has these amazing parties and his house is monumental, along with his extensive wardrobe of soft shirts that he shows Nick while showing him the house. I think that this would be an interesting take on The Great Gatsby because most times when I think about this book I think about the love story, not the astounding amount of wealth that Jay Gats has. I think that in comparison to Gatsby I could contrast the wealth that Tom has with Daisy on the other side of the ocean from Gatsby. I think that this would be interesting because, although it is not a main point in the book, Tom likes to flaunt his wealth as well as Gatsby and they both are very privileged.

If I do My Ántonia, I would connect it to the economic historical creation of the western frontier in places such as Nebraska and how the railroad came to be what it was. I think that this could be an interesting topic because tracing Jim Burden’s connection to the creation of the railroad in places where this story takes place could be interesting. I think that connecting Jim’s job working as a lawyer in New York to help this process, along with talking about the journey and the differences between Virginia and Nebraska would create more of a historical divide.

Overall, I am very confused about what I want to do and would love suggestions. I think that I could do either of these options, but I am open to other suggestions as well.


  • I think it will be more fun for you to do something we aren’t currently dissecting in class. I love the Great Gatsby and it sounds like you do too, so why not follow that instinctive passion. It’ll probably make for a better experience and eventually a better paper.

    The history of Long Island and New York City is so deep in Gatsby, and, well, that is incredibly intriguing to me. In addition, looking at the book as a product of the lost Generation (Post WW1) is a great way to go. I think the history in this book is thick, and the way privilege plays out with the new money of this curious new generation. Privilege alone is almost too big of a bite, but with a smaller historical lens, I think you’ll be just fine.

    That said, I don’t think you can really go wrong here, My Ántonia is also filled with potential.

    Side note: I’m pretty sure it’s Jay Gatz (not Gats) which is probably annoying of me to point out, but it’s more for my own Fitzgerald-loving self than anyone else

  •   Professor Seiler
    April 20th, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Marissa: well, you can’t go wrong. I’m with Lillian on the promise of working on Gatsby, but I think a critical edition on _My Ántonia_ would be rewarding for you too. What I’d like to point out is that in either case, the intellectual/critical frame for your edition seems to be the same: you want to think about how these novels engage with / reveal key moments in US history. So you’re moving toward a historicist / new historicist frame. Good to start to recognize the continuity of your critical curiosity either way, huh?

  • Obviously, I think that you have two strong options to choose from. I think that just by looking at your blog post that you’ve made up your mind already as you have one long paragraph about Gatsby and a slightly shorter one about My Antonia. Both are great, but personally, like Lillian stated, I think working on Gatsby would be refreshing. I’m assuming you read Gatsby in high school (as I did) and I’m wondering if your view of the work has changed through English 220. I think it would be super cool to analyze how privilege plays into the American dream especially during the 1920s. I’m also with Lillian that really focusing on this historic time period will better your argument as privilege is a huge topic.

    Side note: I thought it was James Gatz.

  • Marissa-
    You seem passionate about Gatsby so why not write about that! You already have a solid idea about comparing the wealth between the two houses. However to deepen your analysis/ideas I would suggest relating the topic of wealth to the characters personalities or another theme that you would like to discuss. If you relate wealth to the characters personalities you could see how they act externally and how they feel internally as a result. Also as apiece of advice I would suggest listing out all evidence relating to wealth in Gatsby, it might help guide your ideas. When you are looking at wealth you might find specific objects of wealth that are symbolic of the characters personalities – I think that would allow for a fascinating layer of analysis. You seem to have a clear understanding on Gatsby and are on a promising path, keep digging!

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