A Level English students sample a university lecture

In preparation for their summer exams, A Level English Language and Literature students visited London South Bank University for a lecture on ‘The Great Gatsby’. Dr Leon Betsworth considered Fitzgerald’s use of first person narration and evaluated the importance of Nick’s role. He titled his lecture ‘The Great Carraway’, as he argued that Nick, and the nature of his narration, requires careful unpicking and interrogating in order to get to the heart of the novel.

The students were asked to consider Nick’s reliability, objectivity and the manner in which Gatsby’s character is mediated through him. Dr Betsworth posited that due to the evasive nature of the first person narrative voice it is challenging for the reader to construct a coherent, unbiased portrayal of Jay Gatsby (or Jimmy Gatz). The students were engrossed as he likened the novel to an impressionist Monet painting, this analogy really enabled them to recognise the subjectivity and ambiguity involved in studying literature.

The lecture provided our students with a taste of what learning will be like at university, they had to be adept at note taking as the session moved at a fast pace. Dr Betsworth complimented the students on their perceptive answers and he left them with lots of new ideas to consider in the run up to June’s exam.

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