Degree Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Advisor(s)

Laura Baudot

Committee Member(s)

DeSales Harrison
Wendy Hyman

Keywords

Tristram Shandy, Agostino Ramelli, Book wheel, Intertext, Mechanics, Intellectual history, Machines, Eighteenth century

Abstract

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 I use Sterne's frequent descriptions of Tristram Shandy as a machine to question how texts behave as (faulty and outdated) technologies in this eighteenth-century text.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.

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