Traditional transformations and transmedial affirmations: Blurring the boundaries of Sherlockian fan practices


  • Ashley D. Polasek De Montfort University



Affirmational, Baker Street Irregulars, Fan community, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes, Transformational


The modes of discourse employed by fans of Sherlock Holmes represent both affirmational and transformational impulses. As the fan community has grown and diversified, tensions have arisen between Sherlockians who prefer to utilize traditional frameworks dating back to the early practices of the Baker Street Irregulars in the 1930s and '40s and those who operate primarily in virtual spaces and utilize 21st-century digital platforms as frameworks for their discourse. Because the demographics of affirmational fans tend to align with those of fans preferring traditional frameworks, and conversely, the demographics of transformational fans tend to align with those of fans preferring transmedial frameworks, the styles of engagement often become conflated with the impulses driving the discourse itself. By first examining these tensions and then utilizing case studies that illustrate the four combinations of frameworks and modes of discourse—traditional-affirmational, transmedial-affirmational, traditional-transformational, and transmedial-transformational—I seek to complicate the boundaries that appear to divide the larger Sherlock Holmes fan community. I will demonstrate that the twin fannish impulses to affirm the text and transform it have operated not at odds but in parallel throughout the history of the fandom.

Author Biography

Ashley D. Polasek, De Montfort University

Honorary Fellow of the Centre for Adaptations