Bachelor of Arts
Tristram Shandy, Agostino Ramelli, Book wheel, Intertext, Mechanics, Intellectual history, Machines, Eighteenth century
Of the many devices and doodads Laurence Sterne describes in Tristram Shandy (1759-67), the most surprising remains the machinery of Tristram Shandy itself. I use Sterne's frequent descriptions of Tristram Shandy as a machine to question how texts behave as (faulty and outdated) technologies in this eighteenth-century text. I look at Agostino Ramelli's book wheel--a sixteenth century device which allows its user to quickly cross-reference various texts--to illustrate the latent challenges in Sterne's book-machine metaphor. My essay suggests that Sterne's various registers of literary allusion signal moments in which the book realizes its potential, but also its limitations, as a veritable form of machinery.
Cohn, Maxwell Harrison, "The Mechanical Aspirations of Written Things in Sterne's Tristram Shandy" (2014). Honors Papers. 280.