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Perspective Games

Cham's Heritage and Legacy

Philippe Willems

This article draws attention to the transition in print culture that took place between the 1830s and the 1850s, allowing for a new flexibility in format and new relations between word and image. Within this wider context, Cham was an innovator who adapted literary techniques such as mise en abyme, oxymoron and synecdoche to visual storytelling. The article focuses on links between Cham's work and Tristram Shandy: I show how Cham introduces Sterne's reflexivity into his comic strips, using unorthodox framing and inserting blind panels as a deliberate interference in transmission, impeding the reader's privileged point of view. Cham deploys a number of parodic devices to demystify canonical texts: for example, in an incursion across diegetic boundaries, he kills off characters from Victor Hugo's Les Misérables with a few well-aimed swipes from a vast pen.

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Norman N. Holland

Metafictions tell stories in which the physical medium of the story becomes part of the story as, classically, in Tristram Shandy or Don Quixote. In our times, both metafiction and metafilm have proliferated. Examples of metafilm include Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr., Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo, Alejandro Amenábar's Abre los Ojos, Ingmar Bergman's Persona, the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers and, in particular, Spike Jonze's Adaptation. In my experience and that of others, metafilmic movies have a peculiarly disconcerting effect, sometimes arousing fear, sometimes seeming comic. Why? Metafilms play tricks on the levels and kinds of our belief (or our suspension of disbelief). To explain the effect, we need to understand how our brains are functioning when we are, as we say, "absorbed" in a film. The answer lies in the fact that reality testing depends on activity in the motor regions of the frontal cortex. But in experiencing the arts, we are not moving or even planning to move. As a result, as Richard Gerrig's experiments show, we momentarily believe (or suspend disbelief in) the film we are perceiving. Metafilm, however, introduces another, more real reality, the physical medium of the film. Metafilm thus sends conflicting messages to the brain about moving. The result is what Freud called "a signal of anxiety." If the metafilmic effect is brief, we laugh. If it persists over time, it can arouse anxiety.

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Uncanny History

Temporal Topology in the Post-Ottoman World

Charles Stewart

higher relief (as anomalies), an example being the time charts printed in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (published in nine volumes between 1759 and 1767). In the sixth volume, Sterne presented diagrams of the story line in each of his preceding five

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Janet Staiger

already present set of narrative and narrational options? After all, Laurence Stern's comedic satire The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759–1762) starts a major genre of prose, and the film Wild and Woolly (John Emerson, 1917) is a