Detecting Orientalism in Sherlock Holmes

About the Creators

Lauren Reese and Kelly O'Donnell undertook this project under the guidance of our teaching assistant Zac Enick. Lauren is finishing up her B.A. in English Literature, Kelly is working on her PhD in Commuication and Rhetoric in online contexts, and Zac is about to graduate with his B.A. We have each brought our unique persepctives to this project out of our interest in the digital humanities and our love of Sherlock Holmes. We went through several ideas before we settled on looking at how Orientalism was portrayed in Victorian times through the lens of "The Sign of the Four," a stand alone Sherlock Holmes tale written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890.

The aim of this research is to illuminate the way themes of Orientalism manifest in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four as a way to reveal the nuances of Empire and ownership through this novel. Our hypothesis for this inquiry expects to find elements of the East to be categorized negatively and regarded as inferior by Western characters, while elements of the West to be categorized positively and regarded as superior.

Map of 221 Baker St. London, circa 1890