For the past two weeks, I’ve been teaching Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy in my eighteenth-century Honors Tutorial class. This is the second time I’ve taught this novel; I also taught it last year in this class.

I’ve been very honest with my students. I taught Tristram last year just to make myself read it finally. I had twice been assigned to read it in graduate classes but had never been able to finish it.I decided to teach it this year so that I could see if I wanted to write about it in my current book project. I think it’s good to be upfront with them about my choices in the class.

I enjoyed reading and teaching it last year, but I’ve loved it this time through. Reading it a second time has opened it up in whole new ways. Now that I’m not reading just to get any handle on it, I can enjoy it and try to get into it as a scholar and critic.

My students have done a great job with this novel so far. We watched Michael Winterbottom’s 2005 adaptation of the novel yesterday, so some of them are writing reviews of it for this essays this week. To do so, they have to think about what they think the novel is really all about, what it’s doing. Then they can evaluate whether the movie captures that. So far, they’ve done a great job on both counts. I’ve been really impressed with their ability to analyze this incredibly difficult work. They’ve been game for it, which I guess is one of the perks of teaching in the HTC program.

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