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Title: Mobile Holmes : Sherlockiana, travel writing and the co-production of the Sherlock Holmes stories
Author: McLaughlin, David Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 4238
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis is a study of the ways in which readers actively and collaboratively co-produce fiction. It focuses on American Sherlockians, a group of devotees of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. At its centre is an analysis of geographical and travel writings these readers produced about Holmes’s life and world, in the later years of the twentieth century. I argue that Sherlockian writings indicate a tendency to practise what I term ‘expansionary literary geography’; that is, a species of encounter with fiction in which readers harness literature’s creative agency in order to consciously add to or expand the literary spaces of the text. My thesis is a work of literary geography. I am indebted to recent work that theorises reading as a dynamic practice which occurs in time and space. My work develops this theoretical lens by considering the fictional event in the light of encounters which are collaborative, collective and ongoing. I present my findings across four substantive chapters, each of which elucidates a different aspect of Sherlockians’ expansionary literary geography: first, mapping, where Sherlockians who set out to definitively map the world as Doyle wrote it keep re-drawing its boundaries outside of his texts; secondly, creative writing, by which readers make Holmes move while ensuring he never wanders too far from the canon; thirdly, debate, a popular pastime among American Sherlockians and a means for readers to build Holmes’s world out of their own memories and experiences; and fourthly, literary tourism, used by three exemplary readers as a means of walking Holmes into the world. I conclude with a call for literary geography as a discipline to continue to broaden its horizons beyond the writers and readers of self-consciously literary fictions. The kinds of reading practices I discuss here can take us closer to demonstrating the role that literature and encounters with fictions play in the wider production of space in everyday life.
Supervisor: Howell, Philip Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Literary geography ; geography ; Sherlock Holmes ; collective reading