College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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fanfiction, fan studies, reader response, queer theory, Sherlock Holmes


Online fanfiction communities are increasingly coming to light as an independent manifestation of an (often queer) interpretation of popular media. This paper investigates the different causes of this phenomenon, how the participants craft individual meaning that addresses perceived gaps in representation, and the ways in which fanfiction authors and readers work with the boundaries of the original work. Specifically, I reference the subset of the Sherlock Holmes fan community that romantically pairs Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. By analyzing the numbers of fanfiction and providing a reader response and intertextual analysis that delves into specific influential works, the conclusion is that in the process of appropriating these historic characters, fans are creating new ways of translating and perpetuating meaning that work outside of traditional commercial formats.