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Make Yourself at Holmes: Victorian Culture, Sherlock Holmes and the Vicissitudes of Identity

Jasnowska, Agnieszka (2015) Make Yourself at Holmes: Victorian Culture, Sherlock Holmes and the Vicissitudes of Identity. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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thesisfinal.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
Restricted until 1 December 2020.


This thesis joins a lively field of Victorian cultural studies to examine the construction and re-presentation of personal and national identity in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, concentrating on three tales: ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip’, ‘The Adventure of the Creeping Man’ and The Sign of Four. Employing Mikhail Bakhtin’s concepts of dialogism and heteroglossia, it argues against the view of detective fiction as literature which merely confirms and reflects the normative middle-class values, positing instead that the effects of excessive textuality at work in the Holmes stories exceed the task of simple hegemonic reinforcement. It proposes a new method for reading Doyle’s narratives, termed ‘syndromatic’, which understands the stories in a reciprocal and dynamic intertextual relationship with the historical, socio-cultural and literary milieu of their emergence. This approach supposes an irreducible density of 'textual' weave on either side of the traditional text/context divide, and allows us to trace the conflictual and polyvocal interplay across it. Rooted in and inspired by a particular genre and an inimitable, if much imitated, author, the thesis none the less makes an oblique argument for a renewed urgency of literary-cultural analysis in general. Working with the formalistic as well as content requirements of detective fiction and actively engaging The Great Game of Sherlockian scholarship alongside a theoretical study, this research negotiates the intellectual and the emotional involvement with its object to explore, as participant-observer, the addictive joys of reading detective fiction.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Sherlock Holmes, detective fiction, Bakhtin, Victorian culture, Victorian literature, Arthur Conan Doyle
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: dr Agnieszka Jasnowska
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2015 12:43
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2015 12:43
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11176

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