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The University of Southampton

Professor Roberta Pearson (University of Nottingham): ‘Janeites and Sherlockians: Literary Societies, Cultural Legitimacy and Gender’ Seminar

Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-Century Research
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16:00 - 18:00
3 May 2017
Lecture Theatre B, Avenue Campus, SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Mary Hammond at .

Event details

This talk brings to bear the insights of fan studies upon the afterlives of literary texts. Fan studies has to date focused almost exclusively on the popular, but the field can benefit from broadening its remit to include the high and the middle-brow. This talk concerns two literary societies, the Jane Austen Society of North America and the Baker Street Irregulars (the world’s first and foremost Sherlock Holmes fanclub). The talk will first draw parallels between the attitudes and practices of the two literary societies and those of popular fandoms, demonstrating that fan studies’ insights are applicable to fields other than the avowedly popular. It will then address the ways in which the BSI and JASNA differ from each other and from the LCS with regard to external perceptions and internal divisions related to cultural legitimacy and gender. These differences among the literary societies also underline the value to the field of an expanded remit. While the Janeites cohere around culturally valorized texts, the media tend to devalue them by virtue of gender; by contrast, the BSI coheres around less valorized texts, but the media have often celebrated them, sometimes implicitly by virtue of their gender and social position. Issues of cultural legitimacy and gender play out in nuanced and opposing ways on the different levels in the cultural hierarchy in which people enact fannish practices and attitudes in their admiration of revered literary texts.

Speaker information

Professor Roberta Pearson, University of Nottingham. My research and publications encompass a wide variety of topics and interests. 1) American television drama: I am interested in the multiple determinants of textual meaning from the production context to textual characteristics (narrative/genre) to audience reception and fandom. At the moment, I am fascinated by the emergence of multi-platform, transmedia storytelling and its historical antecedents. I have co-edited an anthology on cult television, edited an anthology on Lost and co-authored a book on Star Trek and American Television. 2) Shakespeare and media: I am primarily concerned with Shakespeare as cultural icon, rather than adaptations of individual texts, although have written about film and television adaptation as well. 4) acting and actors: I have a long standing interest in film acting that goes back to my PhD dissertation, which was published as Eloquent Gestures. I am also interested in the craft of the actor and have recently interviewed Patrick Stewart about his interpretation of Mark Antony in an interview which appeared in the journal Shakespeare. 5) early cinema/film history: I have written quite a bit about early American cinema. 6) film/television and history: how do moving image media represent the past? How do representations of particular historical events vary over time or across a range of media at the same time. My own work in this area has focused on the ill-fated American general, George Armstrong Custer. 7) culturally iconic figures: a theme that runs through much of my research in an interest in the cultural significance of particular historical or fictional figures such as Shakespeare, Custer, Batman or Sherlock Holmes. 8) fan studies: I have written several book chapters and articles about fandom 9) Sherlock Holmes: I have written several book chapters about Holmes and am working on a major monograph titled 'I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere': Multi-media, Transatlantic, Post-Millenial Holmes.

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