SOLD OUT! Reading Tristram Shandy with Wesley Stace | Virtual Course

Date / Time

  • November 14, 2023
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • December 12, 2023
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • January 9, 2024
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • February 13, 2024
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • March 12, 2024
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Sponsored by Lisa Washington


  • Tuition for this course is $250. 10% off for Rosenbach members and the Delancey Society. Not a member? Learn more.
  • This course is limited to participants who are 18 years of age or older.
  • Please check your spam folder for your email confirmation. If you have questions, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • This course meets virtually on Zoom. Sessions will be recorded.
  • Registration opens for Delancey Society members on Wednesday, August 16, for Rosenbach members on Wednesday, August 23, and for the general public on Wednesday, August 30.

Register for the Waitlist



Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-1767), one of the great novels of the Eighteenth Century, is a nine-volume pseudo-memoir, and simultaneously, a domestic drama and a wild narrative and linguistic adventure, resolutely of its time yet completely timeless. By turns sentimental and bawdy, the book was a publishing sensation: a scandalous, digressive, and transgressive book written by a canny self-publicist with a brilliant turn of phrase, a satirist, a master of innuendo, and, perhaps most surprisingly, a vicar. Shandy, more than any other book, makes you aware of the page itself, the act of printing, with its black pages, its marbled pages, its squiggles and its elaborate punctuation.  

In Shandy‘s immediate aftermath, its more formally experimental (“flashier”) elements were ignored in favour of the sentimental aspects; yet at the start of the 20th Century, the sentimental movement long forgotten, Sterne’s various “modernist” techniques were an inspiration for Woolf and Joyce among others. It has long been thought that these techniques were of Sterne’s own invention, but deeper study has revealed a foment of experimentalism in the depths of the Eighteenth Century.  

Join us over five sessions as we dissect Tristram Shandy and explore its creation, its reception, and the reasons behind its shifting reputation since publication. Let’s also simply revel in the story (often overshadowed by the literary fireworks), the characters (ditto), and the glittering wit of this Eighteenth Century classic. We might even discuss whether the novel actually ends or not with the ninth volume.  

You’ll come for the marbled page; you’ll stay for the characters. 

Reading Tristram Shandy Syllabus

About the instructor 

Wesley Stace was born in Hastings, East Sussex in 1965. He released many albums under the name John Wesley Harding, before switching back to his birth name for more recent recordings, including 2021’s Late Style. He has recorded duets with, among others, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, and Rosanne Cash. Stace has published four novels, including the international bestseller Misfortune, and recently co-wrote Mark Morris’ memoir Out Loud. He also created Cabinet of Wonders, a monthly show that plays at New York City’s City Winery, and which The New Yorker called “one of the finest nights of entertainment this city has to offer.” He has taught at Princeton, Swarthmore and Fairleigh-Dickinson, and writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and the Wall Street Journal. He lives in Philadelphia and has taught course for the Rosenbach on David Copperfield and a year-long course on all 12 novels of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. Tristram Shandy is his favorite book, and his essay on Sterne – Listerine – was published in Post Road and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.