The Great Gatsby in the American Classroom

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The Great Gatsby in the American Classroom In determining why The Great Gatsby is so frequently assigned at various education levels, my thoughts reverted to our discussion on the Vendler text and the premise that teachers may be attempting to seduce their students into learning. In connection to this discussion, I reflected on my own classroom and what I hope to achieve with my students. I find the "seduction" of students to be an integral component in teaching students to appreciate the learning process. Not all learning is "fun," but I attempt to teach my students that it can at least be an interesting process. Do I teach Gatsby in my own classroom? No. Do I think it is a significant text to be taught? Yes. Do I think Gatsby should be included in the literary canon? I think that question is irrelevant. This is because teachers, if educated well, should be able to determine the needs of the classroom Sometimes these needs go beyond or outside of the literary canon. I understand the relevance of the literary canon to English studies, but I also perceive the canon primarily as a tool or resource for the teaching of English. The canon also helps to preserve works of literature, but mere usage also helps to preserve. If works of literature are continually used in the classroom because of their relevance and usefulness, then there is not truly a need to encapsulate that work of literature in the canon to preserve it. That preservation occurs through popular use. Being exposed daily to the challenge of engaging minds in a discourse on literature, I believe it is possible, and sometimes necessary, for teachers to structure their material to fit the needs of their students. Gatsby is one such novel that appears to be filling this role. In the preface to The Great Gatsby, Matthew J. Bruccoli asserts that The Great Gatsby is a classic-a novel that is read spontaneously by pleasure-seekers and and under duress by students. A popular classroom fallacy holds that classics are universal and timeless. Literature has staying power, but it is subject to metamorphosis. (vii) The Great Gatsby is pushing its way into more and more classrooms, because it is interesting as a literary work and, moreover, because it remains relevant to issues in modern society.
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