Assistant professor of English publishes scholarly article over various portrayals of Sherlock Holmes

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Assistant professor of English publishes scholarly article over various portrayals of Sherlock Holmes

August 31, 2016

Dr. Richmond Adams Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Dr. Richmond Adams, assistant professor of English, recently published an article concerning various cinematic and television portrayals of Sherlock Holmes.

In Adams’ work titled "No More Greed and Grab: Sherlock Holmes and the 'Decency' of Gentlemen," he explores Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's great detective through the Victorian lens of a "gentleman" in three quite different, yet interestingly similar ways across the 20th and 21st centuries.

First using the Basil Rathbone films made during World War II, then shifting to Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal in the post 9/11 American drama television show “Elementary”. Adams argues that despite the dramatic shifts in cultural assumptions from the Victorian era through the hopes of World War II and now Miller's guilt-ridden, angry-postmodern view, the notion of Holmes as a "gentleman”—specifically defined through various etiquette manuals from Conan Doyle's century—continues to guide the character's sense of himself as a detective and as a man.

Adams concludes his article by using Christopher Plummer's 1979 portrayal of Holmes in “Murder by Decree” as a Janus-like cinematic bridge between the hopes of Rathbone from World War II and the pessimism of Miller in post 9/11 America. As Plummer's Holmes investigates the murders committed by Jack the Ripper in Victorian England, he comes to question the efficacy of his cultural institutions, and does so through the worldview of a "gentleman." By doing so, Plummer's Holmes offers a way not only to examine the traumatic changes in Western society from World War II through the late 1970s, but the ongoing preconceptions about, as Dr. Watson reflects at the film's end, the concept of 'decency' as well as fairness and concern for others.

“Sherlock Holmes, as most critics agree, continues to hold a place within Western imagination about not only the solving of crimes but the manner and style by which he did so,” Adams said.

Adams’ work was published in spring 2016 in Cinematic Codes Review by the Anaphora Literary Press. This publication marks the fifth scholarly article by Adams since his arrival at Northwestern in the fall of 2014.

For more information on Adams’ work contact him at (580) 327-8428 or