Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English



First Advisor

Carnell, Rachel

Subject Headings



While Tristram Shandy and The Man of Feeling have received continuous literary attention, few has been done in reading the skeptical and sentimental aspects of the two novels. This thesis glances through “conversation”, a reader-author conversation may be defined as a dialogue with a reader which is mediated by text. Both Sterne and Mackenzie engage in a conversation with readers by making them laugh, question, criticize, sympathize, and reflect on the deeper meaning of the novels. Moreover, this author-reader conversation is impossible without the wide use of conversations in both novels, through which characters convey their emotions and thoughts. Both novels use conversation in all its forms and manifestations. As thesis shows, these novels employ satire, skepticism, and sympathy in a way that engages readers in conversation with the authors and their own beliefs and preconceptions. While some critics analyze Tristram Shandy and The Man of Feeling by separating their didactic spirit, or treating either side as the “winning” side. This is a false dichotomy as these novels neither strictly sentimental nor strictly skeptical, but they offer two sides perpetually in conflict. Sterne and Mackenzie balance sentimentalism and skepticism in a way that make them complementary rather than competitive.