The joke, famously, was on Samuel Johnson when he declared that “nothing odd [would] do long” and that Tristram Shandy therefore would “not last.” Johnson’s concern with the staying power of modern literary productions will, however, give us our cue for our close study of Sterne’s novel. This seminar will explore how Tristram Shandy engages eighteenth-century Britain’s emerging preoccupation with the historical situation, how Tristram Shandy documents the eighteenth-century history of historicism. We will, in other words, treat Sterne’s novel as a book centrally concerned with the memorializing of the past and centrally concerned, therefore, with the strange, elegiac manner in which literary artifacts speak out of their times and speak in and to eras not their own.
To pursue this project, participants in the seminar will investigate how the story-telling inhabitants of Shandy Hall pass the time and tell the time and how they cite and recycle stories that precede their own. The seminar will attend, as well, to the peculiar historiographical strategies that My Uncle Toby develops when he attempts to restore the past and wage earlier imperial warfare all over again. Selected shorter readings by Sterne's contemporaries (Dr. Johnson included) will invite us to consider how we might connect this book in particular (and eighteenth-century fiction generally) to cultural institutions such as the antiquarian cabinet and the literary anthology and to nation-making genres such as the epic, the historical register, and the historical novel.
Deidre Lynch teaches in the English Department of Indiana University, Bloomington and has written extensively on eighteenth-century and Romantic-period British literature. She is the author of The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning, which in 1999 won the Modern Language Association’s Prize for a First Book. She has edited Janeites: Austen's Disciples and Devotees (2000) and (with William Warner) Cultural Institutions of the Novel (1996), and is currently at work, as an associate editor for the Romantic period, on the 8th edition of the Norton Anthology of English Literature. She held a Research Triangle Foundation Fellowship at the National Humanities Center in 2000-2001.
Applications available at the web address shown below.
Deadline: February 25, 2005
DATES AND LOCATION: July 10-15, 2005, at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
ELIGIBILITY: The Summer Institutes in Literary Studies are open to scholars who received a Ph.D. within the last ten years and who teach in departments of literature or other relevant disciplines at colleges or universities in the United States
STIPENDS & EXPENSES: Participation in an institute carries a stipend of $1,500. The National Humanities Center will cover the cost of travel, lodging, meals, and texts.
FORMAT: Each institute will combine extensive seminar discussion with small group work and individual consultation with the seminar leader.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Participants will have individual apartments in a residence hotel within ten minutes of the Center. The Center will provide van service to and from the hotel.
This program is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Richard R. Schramm
Vice President for Education Programs
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