Program Details

Lives Cut Short: Major Figures in American Literature

Matt Klauza
Arts & Letters / History
Video Catch-up

Course Description

This series explores the biographies of four iconic and very different figures in literature. Come experience the lecture and learn about the lives and times of Agatha Christie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, and Theodore Geisel (better known as Dr. Suess) and join the discussion around some of the authors who have shaped American Literature.


  1. Agatha Christie: Mistress of Mystery: World-renowned for her ability to create edge-of-your-seat mysteries, Agatha Christie had a fascinating personal life.  This talk addresses three different types of Christie’s mysteries—"Murder on the Orient Express”, “And Then There Were None”, and “Spider’s Web”—the biographical influences behind them, as well as a personal mystery of her own!
  2. F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Pursuit of Greatness: Throughout his life, F. Scott Fitzgerald pursued greatness in the social, professional, and romantic aspects of his life.  However, many times, he failed.  With each failure, he grew more determined—often tragically so.  This talk addresses the events in his life that shaped his fundamental need for achieving greatness and his pursuit of it.
  3. Truman Capote: The Making and Breaking of a Celebrity: Truman Capote is known for two of his novels: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood”.  He is even more renowned for his self-created stardom, his scandalous behavior, his “Ball of the Century,” and his gossip-style exposé of Hollywood stars. However, his social life was a disaster. This talk addresses the rise and fall of the most famous secret-teller of the 20th century.
  4. Theodor Geisel: Theodore Seuss Geisel is best known for his contributions to children’s literature, but there is a much more adult version behind the man. Since his popularity blossomed, his works increasingly are becoming the subject of serious study in literary circles. This lecture explores the biography of the Pulitzer-Prize- winning author, and how his life contributed to the works that made him famous.

About the Instructor

  • Matthew Klauza, Ph.D., is an English and literature professor at Palm Beach State College. He has presented on literary topics literally across the country (from New Orleans to Michigan, from Philadelphia to San Francisco, and several places in between). Klauza is a two-time Mark Twain Research Fellowship winner with the Center for Mark Twain Studies in New York, and he has lived for several weeks as a scholar-in-residence in Mark Twain's summer home while working hands-on with Twain's manuscripts and typescripts. He earned his doctorate in American Literature from Auburn University in Alabama.