The Evolution of Sherlock Holmes: Adapting Character Across Time and Text
The aim of this thesis is to introduce, justify, and apply a better framework for analysing Sherlock Holmes, one of the most adapted characters of all time. The project works to resituate the focus of those involved in studying adaptations of Sherlock Holmes from an examination of the discrete transition of a text from page to screen, to the evolution of the character as it changes across various intertexts and through time. The purpose is to show that it is the character specifically, and not the literary text with its narrative, genric, and aesthetic qualifications, that is being adapted, and that with this in mind, studying adaptations of Sherlock Holmes should involve a study of the various processes, pressures, and mechanisms that shape, change, and define the character throughout its hundreds of screen afterlives. This thesis then analyses many of these processes with the aim of contributing to our understanding of how a character like Holmes is moulded through remediation. It takes into account how the character’s indices shift and accumulate as they are variously performed. It also considers how the mechanisms of selection function to privilege certain incarnations of the character, and how that privileging becomes a part of future readings. Finally, it addresses how reception and perception by audiences influence how the character is read, and thus how it is understood. By considering all of these aspects of the evolutionary process, and by avoiding a chronological or even a linear organization of the texts under scrutiny, this work seeks to offer a more complete answer to the question of how a single source can support a multitude of varied, even contradictory adaptations and remain relevant and interesting through the years.
- PhD