A Free, Five Week Course On Class Strife: A Multi-Generational Look Through Literature

Case Western Reserve University’s Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program is presenting a free, non-credit five week course at Lakewood Public Library. Class Strife: a Multi-Generational Look through Literature will be presented by instructor Barbara Parr on Wednesdays, May 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 at 7 p.m. in the Main Library Multipurpose Room.

Parr frames the discussion about class struggle around two great reads: J.D. Vance's New York Times best-selling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy and F. Scott Fitzgerald's perennial classic, The Great Gatsby.

The course begins with Hillbilly Elegy, a heartbreakingly honest and often hilarious story of growing up in an impoverished, highly dysfunctional Appalachian family. It seems like a straightforward success story as Vance ultimately graduates from the prestigious Yale Law School, but climbing out of generational trauma and addiction takes more than an Ivy League education. The social paradigm that serves as backdrop to this autobiography highlights the struggle of an entire class of modern day Americans.

Miseries of the socioeconomic variety frustrate the lives of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby as well. In spite of belonging to a social class swimming in extravagant wealth, the characters clamor for positon and meaning in 1920’s America. “Old money”, “new money” and “no money” skews the perceptions in Fitzgerald’s pointed social commentary.

Both selections provide an engaging start point for course discussion. Registration is required for Class Strife: a Multi-Generational Look through Literature. Register online at www.lifelonglearningcleveland.org or call (216) 226-8275, ext. 127. Please read the first six chapters of Hillbilly Elegy for the first class.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:01 PM, 04.18.2017