Lecture: Prof Chris Snyder – “Gatsby in Trinity Quad: Oxford and the American Army Education Commission, 1918-19”

Danson Room, Trinity College, Tuesday 31 May, 4:00pm
Followed by a drinks reception

Under the command of General John G. Pershing, American soldiers began arriving in France in May 1918, at first in small numbers, but eventually the American Expeditionary Force included more than two million soldiers. Well before their success in the Argonne Forest, allied leaders foresaw the logistical problem of dealing with so many soldiers stranded in France during the period between the Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles. One solution was continuing education opportunities for army officers, and thousands were sent to universities in Britain, France, and Italy. This study focuses on a group of about 200 A.E.F. officers who came to Oxford for Trinity Term, 1919. Demographic analysis reveals much about the A.E.F. officer corps (which included several Rhodes Scholars) and about the expectations the U.S. had for this generation of military leaders. F. Scott Fitzgerald drew on all of this in his portrayal of Major Jay Gatsby as a participant in this Oxford project.

Chris Snyder, Professor of History and Dean, Shackouls Honors College, Mississippi State University has been affiliated to the Globalising and Localising the Great War project since Trinity term 2015. He returns to Oxford during Trinity term 2016 to conduct research for his next book.