Essay on Tristram Shandy - 2581 Words - StudyMode
In Dr. Faustus, Christopher Marlowe wrote a profoundly religious drama despite the theater's newfound secularism and his own reputation for anti-Christian irreverence. The Aesthetics of Antichrist explores this apparent paradox by suggesting that, long before Marlowe, Christian drama and ritual performance had reveled in staging the collapse of Christianity into its historical opponents-paganism, Judaism, worldliness, heresy. By embracing this tradition, Marlowe's work would at once demonstrate the theatricality inhering in Christian worship and, unexpectedly, resacralize the commercial theater.The Antichrist myth in particular tells of an impostor turned prophet: performing Christ's life, he reduces the godhead to a special effect yet in so doing foretells the real second coming. Medieval audiences, as well as Marlowe's, could evidently enjoy the constant confusion between true Christianity and its empty look-alikes for that very reason: mimetic degradation anticipated some final, as yet deferred revelation. Mere theater was a necessary prelude to redemption. The versions of the myth we find in Marlowe and earlier drama actually approximate, John Parker argues, a premodern theory of the redemptive effect of dramatic representation itself. Crossing the divide between medieval and Renaissance theater while drawing heavily on New Testament scholarship, Patristics, and research into the apocrypha, The Aesthetics of Antichrist proposes a wholesale rereading of pre-Shakespearean drama.
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I will be examining Sterne’s negotiation of textual authority in the context of the reading expectations and competence of an audience in the 1760s. For example, I shall consider not only the way Sterne used aspects of Locke’s Essay as a structuring principle for the novel but also the early eighteenth-century popular interest in Locke’s work. I will show how Tristram Shandy appropriates part of a discourse of using Locke’s theories in literature as part of its overall examination and commentary upon the authority of knowledge.
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Well this bit comes from a paper I gave at the weekly postgraduate research seminar sessions. It looked at the many pamphlets that were written and printed to exploit the vogue for all things Tristram Shandy in 1761-3. I don’t remember it being very well-received and I still have an annotated version of the paper where I worked out what I should have said. I doubt that paper would end up in the thesis.