- Decoding the industrial and digital city: visions of security in Holmes' and Sherlock’s London
- Book title
- Sherlock and transmedia fandom: essays on the BBC series
- Pages (from-to)
- Jefferson, NC: McFarland
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Both the original and BBC Sherlock Holmes rely on the science of deduction to solve crimes and dazzle audiences. Emerging in times of cultural transformation, both characters offer reassurance about safety in the city by decoding people and places using contemporary technologies. In industrial Victorian/Edwardian London, Holmes relies on emerging sciences of social and criminal typology to classify residents into proper British subjects and deviant criminals. In millennial London, Sherlock links crimes to perpetrators by utilizing digital media to filter modern informational chaos. Sherlock’s intellectual brilliance and mastery of technology offer viewers an appearance of familiarity, which ultimately stems from long-standing cultural tropes that structure narratives about securing urban space, and separating criminologists from criminals. Despite updates, we argue that problematic aspects of Conan Doyle’s stories linger in Sherlock: 19th century ideas about hereditary deviance resurface in Sherlock’s self-diagnosed sociopathy, and orientalist renderings turn Chinese culture into the one mystery that Sherlock’s mastery of digital technology cannot unravel. Indeed, perhaps Sherlock’s true innovation is found in moments of doubt about Sherlock’s ability to decode and fit into a heterogeneous society. Despite the insistence that digital technology and social typology help master twenty-first century life’s informational overload, at the series’ conclusion even Sherlock himself escapes and defies categorization.
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