MONTGOMERY— The F. Scott Fitzgerald Society will hold its 12th International Fitzgerald Society Conference at Troy University’s Montgomery Campus Nov. 6-10.
The Society selected TROY as the site for its biennial event because Montgomery is the birthplace of Zelda Sayre (1900-1948) and the city in which she met F. Scott Fitzgerald, then a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, in 1918.
“Montgomery is a natural site for the conference,” said Dr. Sara A. Kosiba, assistant professor of English on the Montgomery Campus and the conference program director. “It’s one of the top two or three sites in (F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's) biography, right up there with New York, Paris, and Hollywood. The Fitzgeralds are a major tourism draw in Montgomery, and with TROY’s Montgomery Campus located downtown, we’re right in the heart of the history.”
More than 70 papers and roundtables will be presented over the course of the conference, Kosiba said, and scholars from nearly a dozen countries are expected to attend.
In addition to discussions of both Fitzgeralds’ works and lives, the event will feature a bus tour of significant sites, including Oakwood Cemetery, the partial setting for the 1920 short story “The Ice Palace”; the W.A. Gayle Planetarium in historic Oak Park, which Troy University operates; and a “Belles and Jelly Beans” costume ball inspired by another popular story set in a fictionalized Montgomery, “The Jelly-Bean.” An opening reception will be held Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, and special teaching panels for high-school educators will be offered at a reduced rate on Friday, Nov. 8.
The timing of the conference coincides with renewed public interest in F. Scott Fitzgerald and “The Great Gatsby.”
“It’s an amazing time in Fitzgerald Studies with the popularity of Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of 'The Great Gatsby',” said Dr. Kirk Curnutt, the Society vice-president and site director of the conference. “There is a lot of fresh and enthusiastic interest in Scott and Zelda right now. We hope to offer folks who’ve rediscovered 'Gatsby' through the movie an opportunity to learn more and have a taste of Roaring 20s’ fun. The great thing about the Society is that at least 50 percent of the membership is composed of non-academics. We’re a society for anybody and everybody who loves the Fitzgeralds.”
Curnutt is the chair of TROY’s English department at the Montgomery Campus.
Keynotes at the conference will include biographer Scott Donaldson, author of the 1983 Fitzgerald biography “Fool for Love,” which was recently reissued by the University of Minnesota Press; “Wall Street Journal” columnist and jazz critic Will Friedwald, who will discuss his theatrical revue “Tales of the Jazz Age: An F. Scott Fitzgerald Songbook,” which recently held its world debut at the Café Carlyle in New York; and historian Philip Greene, author of “To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion,” who will discuss Fitzgerald’s connoisseurship.
Additionally, novelist Lee Smith, author of “Fair and Tender Ladies,” will read from her latest novel, “Guests on Earth,” at the conference on Friday, Nov. 8. “Guests on Earth” is set in Asheville, North Carolina, at the same hospital where Zelda died in a fire in 1948 and even includes a cameo by Zelda. The reading is free and open to the public.
The cost for the conference is $140, which includes access to all sessions and keynotes, the bus tour, and the ball. Registration information and the preliminary program are available at www.fscottfitzgeraldsociety.org.