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Holmes och Watson – Ett Queerläsningsäventyr: En undersökning av maskulinitet och sexualitet i Sir Arthur Conan Doyles The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education.
2014 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Holmes and Watson, a queer-reading adventure : an investigation of masculinity and sexuality in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is a queer masculinity reading of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story collection The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894). The analysis focuses on the dissonances, tensions and queerness that reside within the text itself. This has been done from my problem statement: How is Sherlock Holmes and John Watson’s sexuality and masculinity portrayed within the boundary of the text? What is being said, what is hidden, and what is dealt with silently? To reveal these queer parts this analysis has been focused around five themes: the late Victorian male, the Woman, countertypes and decadence, the homosocial sphere and sexuality. The thesis has two major theoretical perspectives: masculinity theory, and queer theory. For the masculine analysis I have used Jørgen Lorentzen and Claes Ekenstam’s concept of manly/unmanly, character, and the citizen from the book Män i Norden: Manlighet och modernitet 1840-1940 and George L. Mosse’s countertype. For the queer theoretical I have used a queer resistant reading combined with Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s concept of homosexual panic, and Judith Butler’s gender melancholia. Professor Joseph A. Kestner’s Sherlock’s Men has guided the reading of the short story collection. This thesis aims at showing that the improbable might well reside within the text, not least in the relationship between the two main characters Holmes and Watson. At first glimpse this world of Holmes’s seems devoid of desire, but in a closer reading cracks appear. There are silences, and unnecessary explanations, which have little to do with the adventures themselves, not to mention silent looks, and the association with the domestic. These threaten to effeminize their masculinity, especially Holmes who is a bachelor and suffers from repeated nervousness. Disease of the nerves was associated with effeminacy and homosexuality during the Victorian era. Also, the relationship between Holmes and Watson do at times parody the heterosexual. It’s hard however to find any conclusive evidence of any sexuality in the text, least of all homoerotic, which is hardly surprising considering the forbidding laws that were in place. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 72 p.
Keyword [en]
Sherlock Holmes, Dr John Watson, masculinity, queer theory, queer reading, manliness, manly/unmanly, character, Jørgen Lorentzen & Claes Ekenstam, countertype, George L Mosse, homosexual panic, Eve Kososfsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, focalization
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-27673OAI: diva2:818252
Subject / course
Comparative Literature
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2015-06-08 Created: 2015-06-08 Last updated: 2015-06-09Bibliographically approved

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