The Fiction of Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald

Charles Scruggs
Tuesdays 10AM - 12PM
March 12, 19, 26, April 2, and 9, 2024
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The Fiction of Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald

Spring 2024
In Session
10AM - 12PM
March 12, 19, 26, April 2, and 9, 2024

Course Format: 



Main Campus



fter Fitzgerald sent a copy of The Great Gatsby to Wharton, she wrote him back, saying that his was the fiction of the future, hers “the literary equivalent of gas chandeliers.” Although Wharton saw herself as an American Victorian as opposed to Fitzgerald the “Modernist,” they connected as writers in more ways than one. According to Wharton’s biographer, Fitzgerald “revered” Wharton because she anticipated so many of his own themes about money and social class.    

This course will begin with Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, both published in 1920. Fitzgerald’s novel would make him the voice of the Jazz Age and rebellious youth, whereas Wharton’s novel would win her the Pulitzer because of its presentation of “the wholesome atmosphere of American life.” Yet the darker side of “American life” in Wharton’s novel would find its way into The Great Gatsby (1925), as would Wharton’s other brilliant novel, The House of Mirth (1905). The last session in the course offers an outside perspective with the addition of James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” as a contrast to Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited” and Wharton’s “Roman Fever.” All three are wonderful short stories. 

Required Reading: 

  • Wharton: Roman Fever and Other Stories, Scribner
  • The House of Mirth (1905)
  • Ethan Frome (1911)
  • The Age of Innocence (1920)
  • Fitzgerald: Babylon Revisited and Other Stories, Scribner.
  • The Great Gatsby (1925)

Recommended Reading: 

  • R. E. B. Lewis, Edith Wharton, a Biography
  • Matthew J. Bruccoli, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

Meet Your Professor

Professor Emeritus
Department of English

Charles Scruggs is an emeritus professor of American literature at the University of Arizona. He has written books and articles on African-American Literature and film, and he is presently working on a book on Claude McKay, a Harlem Renaissance novelist and poet. He has also published articles on Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Ernest Hemingway, John Fowles, Raymond Chandler, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift and on American film.  


  • All classes will be delivered on-campus and online via live video streaming. Students will enroll in their preferred format during registration.
  • On-Campus classes will be held in the Rubel Room at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center (1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85721). Enrollment for in-person classes is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. All students enrolled to attend in person also have complete online access and may choose to attend one or all class sessions remotely if desired.
  • Online students may attend all classes via live video streaming and will be able to participate in all course Q&A sessions with the professor in real-time. A high-speed internet connection and a device capable of running Zoom are required to connect. Online access will be password protected and only available to enrolled students.
  • Class Recordings - All HSP classes are recorded and available for every enrolled student to watch for the duration of the course and one month after the last class session. This option is offered to aid students who cannot attend the live class times but desire to enroll and participate asynchronously. We hope this option also aids students who are traveling or have a necessary appointment that conflicts with a class session to stay connected and engaged with the course material.


Poetry Center
Dorothy Rubel Room
1508 E Helen
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
Located on the SE corner of Helen Street and Vine Avenue, one block north of Speedway and three blocks west of Campbell Ave.

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