Literature, Laughter, Philosophy: Tristram Shandy (FYS)|
Spring 2019 not offered
Laurence Sterne's novel, THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TRISTRAM SHANDY, GENTLEMAN (1759-67) has been described as a literary masterpiece, a hilarious satire, a sentimental tear-jerker, and an obscene abomination. Thomas Jefferson thought it formed "the best course of morality that was ever written"; it was a favorite of Karl Marx and Friedrich Neitzsche; and it was even heralded (in a recent film adaptation) as "a postmodern classic written before there was any modernism to be post about." The book is deeply learned--engaging texts from skeptical philosophy to 18th-century science and from Hamlet to early novels. It is also, indisputably, very odd: Though Tristram is trying to tell the story of his life, he fails to get himself born in the first hundred pages, and the text is full of doodles, blank pages, madcap digressions, and missing chapters. In this course, we will read Tristram Shandy alongside the many, many texts it references, borrows from, and mocks, as well as the many, many texts it has influenced. Throughout, we will take Tristram Shandy as our rich test case for some fundamental theoretical questions, What is literature, and why do we tell stories anyway? How is literature related to philosophy? How do our minds work? What is the meaning of human life--of laughter, learning, sex, and death?
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Discussion||Grading Mode: Student Option|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Laurence Sterne, TRISTRAM SHANDY
William Shakespeare, HAMLET
Excerpts from writings by Michel de Montaigne, Miguel de Cervantes, John Locke, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Virginia Woolf, Salman Rushdie, and others; a graphic novel and a film version of Sterne's novel; selected scholarship and theory.
|Examination and Assignments: |
Several short papers leading up to a final research project.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
THIS SECTION IS A FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR (FYS) CLASS.