A Change of Heart About Tristram Shandy… Again

Originally I thought I would argue how much Sterne’s novel encouraged the digital forms and methods of future reading. I felt that the disjointed style of Tristram Shandy and his digressions would be so much easier to understand if you could hover over the highlighted reference and have the definition appear, or if you could click a hyper link back or forward to the continuation of the thought he is having at any given point in the book. I was sure that the ability to converse with other readers through the comments system in an e-book would aid in the analysis and understanding of the novel. Further I would have argued that the ability to listen to an audio format of the novel and then be able to pick up where you left off in the actual text format would be a benefit when the reader finds them at a place where they can make neither heads nor tails of what they are reading and just want to listen to it rather than add the physical action of reading to the effort they must put into the comprehension of this novel.

Through my research I found some great supporting articles that discuss the benefits that digital formats lend to a deeper understanding and engagement with literacy and how authors and readers alike need to take more advantage of these tools. However, after I found these insightful articles I ran into a dilemma, I questioned if my argument was what I truly believed. While I still believe that Tristram Shandy would greatly encourage digital forms and methods of reading, I am hesitant in my support of that theory. Sterne’s novel is already disjointed to the point of being difficult to follow, through its seemingly endless number of digressions. Does the reader really need more distractions when reading this novel? Would a reader actually be able to finish the novel of Tristram Shandy if learning about every reference Sterne makes distracted them? Would digital platforms that already strongly encourage multitasking and their own digressions render the reading of Tristram Shandy impossible?

With these considerations, right now I believe I will argue that while the stylistic aspects of Tristram Shandy appear to encourage the digital forms and methods of future reading, the format may make a novel that is already difficult to read even harder to concentrate on and understand. I would like to look at both sides of the argument even though right now I am slightly more convinced the novel discourages the use of digital forms and methods more than encouraging them.


Annotated Bibliography

Biancarosa, Gina and Griffith, Gina G., “Technology tools to Support Reading in the Digital Age.” The Future of Children 22.2 (2012): 139-160. Academic One File. Web. 20 Mar. 2013.

This work discusses how literacy demands have changed in the digital age. Further it argues how technology has to be conceptualized as a tool to that will build the higher levels of literacy skills and background knowledge that is demanded by today’s information-based society.


Boone, Randall and Higgins, Kyle. “Reading, Writing, and Publishing Text.” Remedial and Special Education 24.3 (2003): 132-140. Sage. Web. 20 Mar. 2013.

This article examines methods used to conduct the business of reading and writing and conducting research and the significant changes these methods are going through. It also looks at how new digital platforms call for a fresh look at such issues.


Williams, Bronwyn T.. “ ‘Tomorrow Will Not Be Like Today’: Literacy and Identity in a World of Multiliteracies.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 5.8 (2008): 682-86. Web. JSTOR. 20 Mar. 2013.

In this article Williams discusses how literacy practices are being fundamentally altered. He argues that daily experiences emphasize the necessity of partaking in an open minded, continuous conversation about ways evolving online technologies and how they change literary practices.

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One Response to A Change of Heart About Tristram Shandy… Again

  1. ullyot says:

    I appreciate your honesty about the research process: from certainty to doubt to certainty again. (New doubts will arise, don’t worry.) The problem you’re facing is whether the digressions ought to be ‘completed’ and marked off as diversions, or if they’re the whole purpose of the novel.

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