Approaches to Teaching Sterne’s Tristram Shandy

  • Editor: Melvyn New
  • Pages: x & 174 pp.
  • Published: 1989
  • ISBN: 9780873525169 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9780873525152 (Cloth)
Approaches to Teaching Sterne's Tristram Shandy Cover

“Most of the contributors, in their teaching, seek to make students better readers and to encourage the development of scholarly habits such as using library resources to explore the novel’s many allusions. It is tempting to try to imagine oneself in one of their classes and to envisage one’s reactions. Most would provide stimulating experiences; many could stir enjoyment in their more receptive students.”

Eighteenth-Century Fiction

Laurence Sterne never would have imagined, according to the volume editor Melvyn New, “that The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy would two hundred years later be read in classrooms and endorsed by professorial types.” Yet this formidable and great novel is indeed “swimming down the gutter of time,” as Sterne prayed it would. The nineteen essays here, written by experienced “professorial types” who teach at a variety of levels, prove that Sterne is an author whose comic wit must be taken seriously and whose novel students can learn to appreciate and enjoy.

This volume, like others in the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, is divided into two parts. The first part, “Materials,” reviews editions of Tristram Shandy, other primary works, biographical resources, background studies, and critical commentary. In the second part, “Approaches,” teachers—including both nonspecialists and well-known Sterne scholars—suggest strategies for presenting the novel in courses ranging from English literature surveys (where Tristram Shandy might be taught) to seminars on the eighteenth-century novel (where Sterne’s work must be taught).