‘Alas, Poor Yorick!’:
A Sterne 250-Year Anniversary Conference
Jesus College, Cambridge
18-21 March 2018
Laurence Sterne was a student at Jesus College, Cambridge in the 1730s. It provided the perfect setting for a conference celebrating his life, work, and afterlives, and in particular the seminal role that A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy played in eighteenth-century culture and beyond upon the 250-year anniversary of its publication.
The Sterne 250-year anniversary conference was proud to host internationally acclaimed academic keynote speakers:
- Peter de Voogd (Utrecht University)
- Freya Johnston (University of Oxford)
- Jon Mee (University of York)
It also featured more informal talks addressing Sterne’s work, and its wider impact on culture and the creative arts.
- Professor Claude Rawson shared reminiscences of the major bicentenary conference held at York in 1968, and which gave rise to The Winged Skull, an important milestone in collected essays on Sterne. Pat Rogers, also present in 1968, offered a response to Professor Rawson’s talk offering his own perspective on this seminal year.
- Martin Rowson discussed his illustrations of Sterne’s fiction: both his acclaimed graphic novel version of Tristram Shandy, and his illustrated A Sentimental Journey, published in 2018.
The conference also included a visit to Cambridge University Library to handle key examples of its extensive Sterne holdings, including works by Sterne and items from the Oates Collection of Sterneana.
Delegates also enjoyed a tour of Jesus College to explore its history, and remnants of its Sterne connections, led by Archivist Robert Athol. Keeper of the Old Library Stephen Heath offered visitors a tour of this special feature of the College, and an opportunity to glimpse some of its treasures.
The conference was an immense success, bringing together scholars from across the globe to participate in a lively and intellectually rich celebration of Sterne’s life, work, and legacy – and to enjoy a highly sociable opportunity to meet each other, and to experience both Jesus College and Cambridge as unique conference venues.
A fuller account of the conference will feature in the forthcoming 2018 edition of The Shandean.