I had a lot of fun last Thursday attending UConn’s annual gingerbread house competition. In a nod to UConn Reads, the theme was “The Roaring Twenties” and there were lots of great entries – although, as an art historian, I had a soft spot for the Frank Lloyd Wright house.
Inspired by the occasion, I decided to see if F. Scott Fitzgerald had ever made a reference to gingerbread in his writings. I have to admit that I wasn’t hopeful, but a short story titled “More Than Just a House,”” published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933, includes this reference:
At the Gunther house they served tea, hot or iced, sugar buns, gingerbread and hot rolls at half-past four.
This tea service is emblematic of the tired gentility of the Gunther family, their heavy heritage and lack of vitality – they clearly aren’t serving cocktails at five to the smart set. To underscore this, it is the grandmother who offers the story’s protagonist a second serving of gingerbread.
The amazing gingerbread creations at the UConn celebration were in no way a symbol of our lost vitality, but an expression of our sense of community, our energy, and our spirit of fun and creativity. I hope we’ll bring all of these qualities to the experience of reading The Great Gatsby together.
I’ve been working with President Herbst, the Steering Committee, and various members of the UConn community to develop programs for the Spring. We have a lot of exciting events in the works, including an exhibition of 1920s prints at the Benton Museum, an exhibition of contemporary art called “Gatsby Revisited in the Age of the 1%” at the Contemporary Art Galleries, a performance by drama students, a jazz concert, and a panel discussion with English department faculty. Please feel free to contact me directly with questions or suggestions for UConn Reads.