Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Bertacco, Simona

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Griffin, Susan

Committee Member

Griffin, Susan

Committee Member

Rosner, Mary

Committee Member

Reitz, Caroline

Author's Keywords

doyle; Sherlock; detective; crime; adaptation; China


This dissertation focuses on the adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes character and stories into the television shows Sherlock and Elementary on air today. The project will consider three central questions: 1) Why is this Victorian detective hero still popular in the twenty-first century and what has remained constant and still resonates with modern audiences? 2) Both television shows transport Holmes in time by setting their narratives in the present day; therefore, what has been changed in this process of adaptation? 3) How do these changes represent shifts in our cultural thinking about important aspects of humanistic inquiry? The dissertation is organized around types of crime with each chapter devoted to a different crime that will bring to the fore specific themes central to the chapter. Chapter one is focused on the crime of murder and considers the intersection of reason and emotion. Chapter two examines the crime of smuggling and the representation of the East (with a specific focus on China). Chapter three considers the crimes of the powerful in order to focus on the relationship within society between those with power and money and those without such resources. Finally, chapter four is centered on the crime of blackmail in order to examine the relationship between public and private identities and information. This chapter addresses how the television shows have updated the understanding of public and private in response to digital technologies and the proliferation of online media.