Call for Papers (Sherlock book collection; complete essays due 03/01/2011)

sherlock book cover

CFP: The Game is On! The Transmedia Adventures of Sherlock

When the BBC premiered its 2010 three-part series Sherlock, it re-envisioned a character who had been adapted and re-adapted in multiple reincarnations for over a century. 113 years earlier, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced Sherlock Holmes in his first serial incarnation. The logical detective solving unsolvable crimes became a key archetypal figure in the mystery and detective genres, crossing media and centuries.

In this collection, we emphasize Sherlock Holmes as an evolving cross media/transmedia and international figure and the myriad cultural intersections and robust and diverse fan traditions that have converged in Sherlock and its fandom. The collection will bring together essays that consider the literary and reception histories informing Sherlock, the industrial and cultural contexts of Sherlock’s release, the text of Sherlock itself as adaptation and transformative work, and Sherlock’s critical and popular reception.

Sherlock brings together participants in the highly active traditions of Sherlockians/Holmesians with long time fans of Holmes who have not acted on that fandom in community contexts. These diverse Sherlock Holmes fans come together with fans from other communities, such as science fiction, slash, and anime fandom.

Thus, the series provides the opportunity to explore the intersection of personal and community fan histories, as well as the convergence of different generations and modes of fandom. Arguably, fan studies has long sidestepped investigation of the impact of Sherlock Holmes fandom on the evolution of fan communities and fan engagement; Sherlock promises a compelling contemporary route to bridge this gap. It is our hope that this collection will contribute to both long-standing conversations about Holmes as a literary and cultural figure and to current and long-standing debates in fan studies.

In this collection, we endeavor to establish Sherlock at the intersection of various intertexts: Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary works; the myriad Holmes adaptations and their fan communities; Doctor Who and Steven Moffat’s influence; and transmedia reception and media fan responses. Within the context of antecedents and intertextuality, reception and fandom, suggested topics include but are not limited to:

  • Author, Creator, and Auteur: Moffat as showrunner and auteur, and the resulting relationship between Doctor Who and Sherlock as shows and fandoms; the continued legacy of Arthur Conan Doyle as author-construct in Sherlock fandom; negotiations of multiple auteurs in production discourse and fandom.
  • Characterization and Interpretation: The archetypal relationship between Holmes and Watson; the series’ reinvention of canon characters, both minor and major, within the televisual context; the series’ ambiguous representation of Sherlock’s sexuality.
  • Genre and Tropes: The series’ use and transformation of classical tropes of the detective genre; Sherlock in conversation with the contemporary detective genre or cop buddy genre; the role of genre in Sherlock fan reception and fan creativity/authorship.
  • Adaptation and Transformation: Sherlock as one of myriad Sherlock Holmes adaptations; the impact of specific aesthetics choices, such as characterization, performance, music, and fashion; the series’ synthesis of Holmes canon with contemporary televisual codes and archetypes; Sherlock as transformative work.
  • Identity and Representation: Sherlock as the rational modern mind par excellence in a post* (post-rational, post-modern, post-colonial) world; the series’ exploration of masculinity through its multiple male characters; the tension of a Victorian source in a contemporary context in relation to issues of identity and representation, such as race and gender, national and sexual identity, as well as mental and physical disability.
  • Space, Place, and National Identity: London as setting and character; the production of the show in Cardiff; the series’ careful construction of London as a synthesis of Victorian and contemporary aesthetics; the reception of the series‘ abroad; discourses of nationality in Sherlock fandom and fan texts.
  • Contexts of Production and Circulation: The context of BBC as it is situated both in Great Britain and abroad; international below-the-radar circulation via digital means; the series’ recontextualization for United States release as part of Masterpiece Mystery.
  • Transmedia Fandom: The roles of paratexts in Sherlock reception; Sherlock as inheritor of long traditions of cross-media fandom; Sherlock fan engagement with the series’ digital-savvy aesthetic and narrative; expansions of the already transmedia Sherlock in multimedia fan texts; fannish intertextuality between Sherlock and other media texts.

Please submit complete essays of 6000-7000 words (including notes, and works cited) via e-mail in Microsoft Word or .rtf format. Include a 300-word abstract that summarizes the argument and a brief biographical statement. Use endnotes and style according to Chicago 16. If artwork, photographs, or screen shots are included, contact the editors for instructions and copyright release requirements. No simultaneous submissions.

The final deadline for essays is March 1, 2011, and we envision a contributor-open collective revision process through May 30, 2011. Please inform us in advance of your interest in the project. Please email us at with any questions you might have about possible submission topics. We also encourage early submission to facilitate revision.

Please feel free to download the PDF version of the Call for Papers HERE.

Louisa Stein (Middlebury College)
Kristina Busse (Independent Scholar)

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