Study Questions Seminar on Seriality, 2019

STUDY QUESTION 2: Deadline 19.06.2019

In our group discussions, we have by now discussed a number of examples of serial formats, both from 19th century British periodicals and current examples of fan fictions of a ‘convergent’, to use Jenkins’ term, media culture. While we discussed film and images more on the side in the first sessions, we have now also started to look at visual and audio-visual forms of seriality. Please answer one of the following questions:

  1. Are there structural similarities between the older textual serial forms we discussed in the expert presentations and the newer textual ones? What are they? Is seriality a driving force of convergence culture, and if so, why?
  2. Is there a fundamental difference between the textual serial forms and the audio-visual serial forms we discussed? If you think there is, why? If you think that media difference is malleable or less important in discussing seriality, what are your arguments?

11 comments

  1. According to Kelleter, mediums such as narrative serialization and the forming of genres are more easily accessible and elementary due to modern communication technology.
    Such commercial industrial mass art forms are very adaptable and they produce access to practical and cultural conventions.
    Modern communication technology allows for information to travel faster and globally. Imaginary, alternative possibilities of living and identity reach people through narrative serialization. Entertainment mediums of hybrid societies with a metalinguistic, multiethnic, multireligious and migration backgrounds are often style-forming for a global audience. In order to be attractive to a diverse audience mediums from such sources often have to generalize their structures. The cultural diversity in American or Indian society exists because they are modern and new aesthetics in popular culture are often a mixtures from minorities and commercial main stream culture. One example for this are sentimental novels from women, Ragtime and Jazz from afro American slaves, American comic books from Jewish immigrants or Rock’n’Roll from teenagers.

    Neumann and Rupp’s descriptions of topographical representations of Sherlock Holmes adaptations are an example for a global aesthetic of a popular narrative. Sherlock Holmes original story is set in London and places and sights carry meaning, adding to the story and painting a picture. Action does not take place in nameless, remote areas places.
    Sherlock Holmes‘ stories do not only appeal to people from London or England. The stories are famous worldwide and also include the protagonist to be involved in transcultural cases. This shows that cultural exchange is taking place and has an effect on a city as well as it’s inhabitants.

    Besides the content and locations within the story, the concept of space extends outwards of the plot to the medium the story is conveyed through. Sherlock Holmes stories are told through various mediums. The adaptations and translations are mobile and show a creative process.

  2. Topographies, i.e. the world we live in be it physical or imaginative, are a major aspect of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Form the topographies of London itself to the topographies of more abstract concepts of urban spaces, spaces and places are ever-present in the original stories. Holmes, with his machine-like deductions, has to maneuver this topographical landscape and make sense of the plethora of clues the places and spaces show and hide. This mediation of oneself within reality and one’s place in it is a defining feature of popular culture according to Neumann and Rupp. The aesthetic artifacts central to popular culture rely heavily on technological media as they are targeted at mass audiences (Neumann p. 164). With the advent of mass media culture succeeding Doyle’s Holmes, it seems that Doyle anticipates this development which leads to the Holmes stories being readily applicable to all the aspects of seriality and popular mass audience culture leading to “ a direct line of continuity from Doyle’s original stories to the later mass appeal of adapting Sherlock Holmes in contemporary popular culture (Neumann pp. 164-65).
    The aesthetic practices in regard to popular topographies evident in Sherlock Holmes provide models for other settings in order to perceive and understand the world. (Neumann, p. 168). This has led to many adaptions, such as Ishiguro’s “When We Were Orphans” or Ray’s Holmes-esque character Feluda, that maneuver similar topographies as did Holmes in London. Both authors write from a Post-Colonial perspective. This is evident in the way the British ideal of deduction and analysis of the topographies isn’t as easy or stable as in Doyle’s originals. Both Ishiguro’s and Ray’s adaptions have their detectives being unable to correctly deduce the clues within the topographical landscape. However, these topographical landscapes are still present and depict further cultural meaning.
    The changes for a different regional, and therefore ever more global, audience can also be seen in Ray’s stories. Feluda’s adventures are adapted for a young audience, therefore changed towards a more PG story. Furthermore, regional changes ground this story in its Indian context and make it more accessible for its attended audience. Ray even depicts London in a topographically different perspective to the London and British based Doyle. Here the depiction of London from a tourist’s perspective, questions the spatial models and remediates the topography of London from a Victorian to a Post-colonial perspective.
    Not only adaptations with Sherlock Holmes like characters have brought the Sherlock Holmes myth from a popular to a global aesthetic, but also contemporary remakes and adaptations have brought Holmes into the modern age and even onto the international stage. The Hollywood adaptations have reimagined the topography of Victorian era London for a modern audience taking contemporary ideals of steam punk into account. Sherlock Holmes can also be found in the USA with the series Elementary. These adaptations are exemplary for how Sherlock Holmes “has long turned into one of the most powerful myths of popular culture anywhere” (Neumann p. 169). Not only has this led to various regional topographies for Holmes like characters to discover but also to an emergence of “a complex transcultural network, a globally entangled topography, which testifies to the productivity of seriality” (Neumann p. 169).
    Ultimately, the topographies of the Holmes adaptations change as the times change to fit their contemporary ideas of space, politics and culture. This goes as far as adapting and evolving Victorian technologies to contemporary, modern technologies such as the cell phone and computer. Sherlock Holmes is a character that guides his readers, viewers and listeners through the landscape of his setting, be it London, New York or India and gives an overview of their historic and cultural importance. Therefore, Holmes lends himself to an ever changing and adaptable global aesthetic.

    Neumann, Birgit, and Jan Rupp. “The Formation of Cultural Topographies and Popular Seriality: The Cases of Sherlock Holmes.” Topographies of Popular Culture, edited by Maarit Piipponen and Markku Salmela, Cambridge Scholars, 2016, pp. 159-88.

  3. Neumann and Rupp describe topographical representation as a dynamic concept that is bound to a certain cultural interpretation of space, boundaries and distances that can be mediated via popular culture (p.163 f). Therefore, topographical representation in general can definitely be seen as ‘global aesthetics’ that can be adapted to many different cultural identities. However, is that the case in the topographical representations of Holmes?
    In order to answer that question, one has to consider the many different adaptions of Doyle`s Sherlock Holmes and analyse whether the topographical representations of the original are adapted and made ‘global’, as well as whether they are accessible to a broad community.
    One can argue that the topographical representation in Holmes is certainly adaptable to other societies and times. Doyle`s Sherlock Holmes displays an imperialistic topography, that distinguishes between the “us”, which is the British normative society, and the “other”, which is the often criminalised Oriental society. Holmes is a detective with the aim to restore the ordered British society by eliminating “foreign elements” with the help of reason and empirical research (p.167). An adaption of this are modern television series of Holmes, e.g. the Granada series starring Jeremy Brett, that sets the story in a “relatively austere” London “coming out of the long period of post- war regeneration” (p.175) or the BBC series Sherlock including modern technologies to create mediality as topography (p. 179). One can see how in both examples the topography is adapted to a contemporary scenery; however, the plot and the imperial worldview are maintained, though this reiteration differs from the original, e.g. by stressing the aspect of the “armchair detective” (p.169).
    An example that takes the adaption of the topography a lot further is Ishiguro`s When we were Orphans, that keeps the idea of a detective trying to restore order but describes Englishness a “sense of cultural difference and displacement” (169). Here, the imperialist topography is disputed as the boundaries between “self” and “other”, “home” and “foreign” are blurred and the stereotypical identification of “Oriental” with “crime” is reversed (p.170). The topography is further changed by shifting London and England as the centre of the world to its periphery (p.170). This adaptation shows how the topography is changed to fit into the context of a post-colonial contemporary setting.
    However, some of these interpretations seem very complex and definitely rely on the audiences knowledge of historical imperial topographies and how they are created in order for the audience to perceive the changes made to the original series and to understand how changes affect the topographical representation. One can doubt whether a broad audience perceives these changes and can use them to create their own “meanings” as well as produce their own (fan) fiction. Therefore I would argue that thought the topology in general is certainly adaptable and that there are elements, e.g. the contemporary setting, that are available and reproducible to a broad audience, the more subtle changes that reverse or focus imperial topographies might be accessible only for a very critical audience. The topographical changes therefore seem to take part on different levels, and whilst some are definitely easily accessible, others seem to be more and more complex.
    All in all one can say that though Holmes topography is an adaptable, global asthetics, its adaptions are only partly open and easily accessed by a broad audience, whilst some of the accessibility relies on a well-informed audience.

  4. The topographical representations of Holmes adaptations that Neuman and Rupp describe are an example of a “global aesthetics” of a popular narrative. Not only Sherlock Holmes is worldwide famous but the character has also been a source of inspiration for many adaptations ranging from literary works to films and especially not limited to the English-speaking world. That alone speaks volume of how attractive the character itself is and the stories about him are to a large number of audience that has different cultural backgrounds.
    Firstly, Conan Doyle created a character with personalities and abilities that are not universal but universally draw people’s attention in. It is a combination of his intellect, his brilliant skills of deduction and observation, as well as the manner in which he works that make readers and viewers alike invest in him, a hero who fights off crimes and for justice. Moreover, a hero like Holmes is facisnating because on a personal level, he has flaws such as social ineptness and tactlessness which could make him more endearing. His friendship with Watson is also admirable because of their loyalty to each other.
    The transformative potential of the narrative relies on the simplicity of the narrative basic structure: the appearance of a mysterious crime case and the need to solve it. Mystery itself is attractive and the desire to unravel it is the evitable. Thus, seriality creates a platform for this narrative to thrive and transform by the use of reiteration. “Reiteration produces both a sense of expected familarity and unexpected newness, a sense of closure and openess”, as stated by Neuman and Rupp (p. 165) . Every new installment offers a new mystery which is to be solved in the end and the process is repeated in the next release, made new, to be different and exciting but still familiar. What is even more interesting is that the room for development of this process of serial repetition keeps expanding and transforming within itself from classic narrative structure to a more complex supernetwork of narrative, as can be seen in television series nowsaday.
    Due to this transformative potential of the narrative, the story of Sherlock Holmes has traveled beyond London to the outside world. Neuman and Rupp analysed two literary adaptations of Holmes that take place in Shanghai, China and India to illustrate the transformative aesthetics of the narrative. Kelleter stated in Populaer Serialitaet that an important factor of popular aesthetics is the identification of the audience to a community even if it is only imagined. For example, the original Sherlock Holmes universe takes place in London of the 19th century Victorian designed for people of the time. A cultural topography of London is contructed to provide a sense of autheticity, though fictional, for the readers at the time to immerse in the story, to visualise and relate to it in some way.
    Understanding the aesthetics that made Sherlock Holmes famous, the adaptations have employed the same tactics: seriality, and transformation of narrative to suit time and space. Felunda is an Indian series of novels and short stories that centers around an Indian Sherlock Holmes who journey with his companions in various places in India and even to England to solve cases. Felunda is not a simple copy of the original but it has its own unique characteristics that portray a diverse image of a postcolonial India, that is certainly different from that of the original.
    The travel potential of this popular narrative has been made possible by the advance of communication technology. I believe, it also explains that at the beginning when the exchange of culture and information was limited, there was a need for early adaptations to tailor the story to fit the community in which the literature was published. Therefore, there were an Indian Sherlock, a Japanese Sherlock (in the manga series Detective Conan) and an English Sherlock that was raised in Shanghai. Nevertherless, it is not to say that now there is no need for adapting it but the way Sherlock Holmes is adapted has clearly changed due to the the prevalence of cultural exchange. The newest Hollywood film productions and the British television series of Sherlock Holmes clearly have expanded its fandom to many countries around the world with the same but not the same English Sherlock Holmes. It would be possible to conclude that the 21st century has produced a more global audience that is not bounded by concrete national boundaries who share the same taste in popular aesthetics.
    Popular aesthetics lies in, apart from the creation of an universally-interesting character, its transformative potential in narrative that can be adapted to space and time to stay relevant. When it succeeds to do so with the help of serialization and technology, it can certainly be called global aesthetics.

  5. In his essay „Populäre Serialität“, Frank Kelleter claims that due to modern communication technology, popular aesthetics have become increasingly available and elementary but also gradually more adaptable and potentially globalized (30). He points to modern hybrid societies such as India and the United States of America, where there is an abundance of popular culture that addresses a diverse audience, and asserts that popular seriality is a category on the basis of which we can observe social and technological transformations since the 19th century (Ibid. 31).
    An example of this global and transformative aesthetic is Sir Author Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes canon and its countless adaptations. In the original stories, the eccentric detective and his loyal sidekick Dr. Watson were based in Victorian London, which represents the development of drastic urbanisation at the time. The pair solve crimes in this metropolitan city, and “Holmes’s criminal cases regularly enmesh him in a complex transcultural network, which [turn] London into … a contact zone in which different cultures interact and intersect” (Neumann & Rupp, 161). With London being the epicentre of the Empire, and the threat coming in from the periphery, Doyle’s fictional world creates a discourse of domestic versus colonial space (Ibid.).
    However, while this “imperial spatial [model]” (Neumann & Rupp, 162) was still prevalent in the early film and radio adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, we can observe a gradual shift of perspective throughout the years. As we witness significant developments in technology, Holmes begins to leave his native London, and solves crimes in the United States and Soviet Russia. What Kelleter calls an adaptable and potentially globalized aesthetics of popular narratives can be observed in the postcolonial adaptation, the novel When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro. The setting moves between Shanghai and England in the 1930s, creating a “third space” (Ibid. 170) that is neither home nor foreign. Ishiguro describes the struggles of a detective who realizes that his English logic and knowledge are not applicable to the war-torn Shanghai. Methods and meanings that were stable and crucial for colonial empires, are reversed, adapted, or rendered useless in the Chinese context, and thus render possible a criticism of the imperial spatial model.
    Another postcolonial remediation of Sherlock Holmes is the Indian detective Feluda, invented by Satyajit Ray. Ray approaches the metropolitan detective fiction by overturning colonial images of India, and in turn “invert[ing] and reciprocat[ing] the colonial or tourist gaze” (Neumann & Rupp, 174) when his hero travels to England. London is described in stereotypical images, and Feluda becomes witness of consumerism and racism, which makes for an “empowering … Indian, post-independence perspective” (Ibid.).
    While modern Sherlock Holmes adaptations such as Hollywood’s Sherlock Holmes and the BBC’s Sherlock seem to return to the early Sherlock Holmes stories in terms of imperialist perspectives – the detective living in metropolitan London, the threat coming from the Orient – we can read the texts as examples of Kelleter’s global aesthetic. Be it the inclusion of modern technology such as mobile phones, GPS and social media in the BBC television series Sherlock, the emphasis on the assumed romantic relationship between Holmes and Dr. Watson in the American TV show Elementary, or the depiction of Holmes as a modern anti-hero, the Sherlock Holmes adaptations are proof of contemporary technological and cultural changes, just like Ishiguro’s novel and Ray’s Indian detective. While the success of the Sherlock Holmes seriality is based on the recurrence of the iconic detective and his wit, it also “relie[s] on translation and transformation” (Neumann & Rupp, 182), in order to ensure the series’ continual popularity.

  6. That narratives around Sherlock Holmes are strongly characterised by their topography is hard to question after reading Neumann and Rupp’s in-depth analysis on the subject. They mostly seem to understand this as the influence of the culture that surrounded Doyle as an author. To them space is treated is a way to shape and transmit British imperial ideology and understandings of the world.
    While the influence the author’s culture has on their work is undeniable, it should not be forgotten that to an English author writing for an English audience this is also an important tool to create cultural verisimilitude. By assuring them that the London of Sherlock Holmes is, at the very least geographically, their own the story becomes much more accessible and personal. This can be supported by Ray’s adaptation of the character, who decided to achieve a similar effect through the same strategy. By transplanting his Feluda to India he brings the character into a world that is more believable and understandable to his audience. The way Ray used the same tool as Doyle in order to achieve the same effect for a different audience might very well be the exact reason for why Sherlock Holmes has been adapted in so many different ways and by this appealed to different audiences time and time again.
    The characters in Doyle’s stories are by a great deal informed by their surroundings. Where they are and where they come from has a great influence on the way they think and act. This, in turn, means that whenever the location or, even just the execution of a location, change a new set of narrative possibilities opens up. Ray’s Holmes-esque character in India caters to a different audience than Doyle’s in London. Even just changing the specific way a location is played out, as can be seen with Guy Ritchie’s movie adaptation, the TV-show Sherlock which is set in a more modern London or Neil Gaiman’s London as part of a Lovecraftian mythos drastically changes the way a single Sherlock Holmes story plays out.
    By this, the character easily lends himself to one of the factors of serial aesthetics as described by Kelleter, namely that a mixture of known and unexpected features are necessary in order to keep the attention of an audience over a longer period of time. Sherlock Holmes as a character offers the known features. His personality and the work he does, by this informing the kind of stories that develop around him, are the recognisable signpost that the audience is drawn to. By changing his surroundings and thereby the exact nature of events developing, authors are then able to create new narratives without having to be too worried about alienating the audience.
    It might be this relative ease with which Sherlock Holmes lends himself to reinterpretation by means of changing the surroundings that is the reason for why the character has been reiterated so often in various forms. With this, it is also notable that apparently in order to be a Sherlock Holmes-story, the narrative does not even necessarily have to include this specific character. Neither Ray nor Ishiguro equip their character with the name that would make the identification with the character most obvious. Instead, it seems in some cases sufficient to fall back unto a Sherlock-Holmes-archetype that can already be recognised by its audience.
    In conclusion, it seems obvious that space plays an important role in the specific way a Sherlock Holmes story develops and by this is in a large part responsible for the mutability that is, according to Kelleter, necessary for a serial narrative in order to survive. This mutability is also one of the reasons for why this character has been adapted and reimagined so often over the time and by this was able to appeal to an ever-larger audience, turning him into the important character of popular culture he is today. So much so, that it is sometimes not even necessary to use the exact name in order to invoke the effect the character. Through this Sherlock Holmes has almost become an archetype, detached from a specific character, and is therefore perfect for serialised recreation.

  7. The Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle can be seen as a very popular narrative since there have been many adaptations and remediations so far, as, for instance, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel When We Were Orphans (2000), the Hollywood movies Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) with Robert Downey Jr. , the US television series Elementary (2012-) or the popular BBC series Sherlock (2010-) with Benedict Cumberbatch (cf. Neumann/Rupp 2016: 169). These adaptations are all different in their representations of space. Their “aesthetic practices that inform the construction of popular topographies […] have a unique transformative potential; as agents of a spatial imaginary they provide powerful models of perceiving and understanding the world” (ibid.: 168). According to Kelleter, popular aesthetics are more and more available and at the same time more and more globalised due to modern technologies of communication (cf. Kelleter 2012: 30).
    So the question arises whether the Sherlock Holmes adaptations with its different topographical representations can be seen as an example of the global aesthetics Kelleter describes or rather as a counter-example.
    Generally speaking, all the Holmes remediations “speak to the time of their own making as much as to the historical context they take up” (Neumann/Rupp 2012: 175). So it is not surprising that especially the film versions of the Holmes stories “mirror significant developments in media history” (ibid.: 168). As the film versions show Holmes in a post-imperial society, the protagonist turns into a rather “global figure of popular culture” (ibid.: 176) traversing the “vast extensions of setting and space which comes to supersede the former imperial structuring of places and values in Doyle’s stories” (ibid.). This does not only become evident in the US series Elementary (2012-), but also in the sequel of the Hollywood production with Robert Downey Jr, in which Holmes extends his traditional territory and travels around the world to fight his enemy (cf. ibid.: 176ff.). So London as the former metropolis of the Empire is no longer pictured in a fight against colonial crime, but in a fight against fascism and other continental problems, as, for example, the sequel with Robert Downey Jr. stresses by picking up on the historical memory of the two world wars and the later European threats (cf. ibid.: 178).
    The BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch as detective Holmes shows an even more contemporary London and thus a modern version of the protagonist, too (cf. ibid.). Not only do the city’s icons such as The London Eye, Russel Square Gardens, South Bank Skate Park or Chinatown mark “London’s status as a uniquely cosmopolitan city” (ibid.: 179), new communication technologies such as Holmes’s multifunctional mobile phone replace the former Victorian gadgets (e.g. telegraph, telephone or magnifying glass) and turn Holmes into a modern guy, who is dependent on his devices, which help him to cope with the “complexities of the contemporary, radically globalised world” (ibid.: 179). At the same time, the viewers of the series are pulled into an “ultra-modern, highly technologised fictional environment” (ibid.) when Holmes’s mobile phone shows his pursuit through the streets of London on screen (cf. ibid.). Furthermore, the “speeded-up transitional shots of London” (ibid.) emphasise the speed and complexity of modern technology and thus of the narrative of the series, as modern technology has a huge impact on society and the modern world.
    There might be one counter-example of Kelleter’s global aesthetics in a video clip on the city of London, which was produced for the Olympic Games in 2012 and featured Benedict Cumberbatch known as Sherlock Holmes from the series, taking the viewers on a walk through the cultural and social history of the city. Although the clip was “heavily equipped with past and present cultural makeovers” (ibid.: 181), the 7/7 bombings is the “only reference to contemporary multiculture” (ibid.). The clip focuses a lot more on cultural imaginings showing iconic sites such as the Thames, the British Museum, a recitation of William Wordsworth’s poem Westminster Bridge (1802) or the statue of Winston Churchill and thus on “topographies of an otherwise bygone era” (ibid.). Especially the animated beating heart with its arteries and veins inside the British Museum’s statue is an “iconic pattern of the Thames through inner London” (ibid.) by hinting on the imperial times when the river was one of the major waterways connecting England with its colonies (cf. ibid.).
    All in all, the Holmes adaptations count as an example of Kelleter’s global aesthetics as they “constitute a complex transcultural network, a globally entangled topography” (ibid.: 169) by moving with the times and using modern communication technologies to show their protagonists living in a globalised world. Nonetheless, the London clip produced for the Olympic Games 2012 demonstrates that, even though technology has been improved and modernised, the imperial times with their cultural legacies are not forgotten and that London is still considered with pride as the centre of the former Empire.

  8. The examples of Sherlock Holmes representations given by Neumann and Rupp do present Kelleter’s aspect of “global aesthetic” that is found in popular narratives.
    The central topography in the Sherlock Holmes narrative is the city landscape of London, but as “the materiality of space (…) [is] traversed by culturally circulating narratives” (p.160) the landscape changes and evolves. The landscape is invented in a new way yet simultaneously kept as a standard, as that what is already knwon. This is what makes up popular seriality according to Kelleter and Neumann/Rupp: New, creative and surprising elements of a standardised concept that is therefor “readily available for imagination”

  9. The topographical representations of Holmes adaptations Neumann and Rupp describe in their essay are an example for such a ‘global aesthetic’ of a popular narrative. As they are modern adaptations, they needed to evolve in order to suit the contemporary audience’s tastes because the modern readers/viewers live in a globalized world. For this reason, the topographies portrayed need to be relatable to the public of the adaptation. Today, even more than before, the public’s interests is the most important because there is an impressive amount of series and the competition is much fiercer than in the 19th century, of course. Nowadays, in order to have as much success as possible, producers need to appeal to people from all over the world, and not everybody is aware of the historical and cultural environment of the Victorian London in which the original Sherlock Holmes lives in. For this reason, the topography must change. In this way, more people can identify with the characters and the situations and this means that more people will probably watch the show till the end. This strategy is vital to a series, unless it is directed to a very small selected audience. Moreover, most of the series are meant to be more entertaining than educational. Kelleter explains this public-caused change in the development of a series in the following passage:

    ‘Die beschriebene Entwicklungsdynamik lässt sich vor allem für überdurch- schnittlich hybride (multilinguale, multiethnische, multireligiöse und stark migrantische) Gesellschaften nachweisen, die bei der Entwicklung vielfach aneignungsfähiger und damit überhaupt erst massenhaft nutzbarer Artefakte nicht zufällig eine Vorreiterrolle spielen. Unterhaltungsformate aus solchen Gesellschaften sind für die globale Populärkultur oft stilbildend, weil sie, um ein multiethnisches, multilinguales oder multireligiöses Publikum anzusprechen, zur Verallgemeinerung formaler Strukturen geradezu gezwungen sind: Je heterogener die Adressaten, desto voraussetzungsloser, aber auch desto flexibler müssen die verwendeten künstlerischen Ausdrucksformen sein.’ (Kelleter, 30)

    Neumann and Rupp provide a considerable list of ways the topographies of Sherlock Holmes’ adaptations diverged from the original one. “When We Were Orphans” and “Feluda” are loosely connected with the original Sherlock Holmes. The detective protagonists live in a Postcolonial environment and this perspective is an immense change from the conservative close-mindedness typical of the 19th century. These adaptations challenge the view of the East and ‘England is removed from the centre of attention just as the stereotypical association of peripheral locales like India with crime is dissolved.’ (Neumann, 173)
    Generally, all the adaptations listed by Neumann and Rupp mention mobility and travelling much more than Doyle does. In this way, they represent the Postcolonial world, in which, through new technologies and globalisation, travel is made possible. For example ‘Feluda “does venture out of India” […], whereas Doyle’s Holmes is largely home-bound, his moral bias relying on stereotyping the colonies as criminal spaces yet only knowing them at a distance.’ (Neumann, 174)
    In contrast to these two adaptations, Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” and BBC’s “Sherlock” have London as setting, but a Hollywood conception of Victorian London for the former and a “millennial” London for the latter. Both works are much closer to the original work than Ray and Ishiguro’s works but they still have topographies that are compatible to the ‘global aesthetic’ of the contemporary audience in order to be a mass-product. In conclusion it is only thanks to the continue adaptation of Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” according to the ‘global aesthetic’ ‘that the English detective has remained a popular figure, and that the other stories surrounding his character continue to serve as a viable means of reading the city and of detecting topographies of London.’ (Neumann, 183)

  10. In their article “The Formation of Cultural Topographies and Popular Seriality: The Cases of Sherlock Holmes”, Birgit Neumann and Jan Rupp argue how seriality enables the mapping of spaces using adaptions of Sherlock Holmes as example. London is often the central space or at the very least a revisited space in adaptations that take place elsewhere. The city is presented in various ways and, depending on the adaptation, London is mapped out and presented differently.

    If one understands Kelleter’s global aesthetic as one that is the opposite of local, an aesthetic that can appeal to people all over the world, I would argue the topographical representations in these adaptations are not global. On the one hand, a globalized aesthetic can be understood as a conglomeration of many big cities rather than the representation of a city that is so well known and so easily recognizably, such as London. A city that is remarkably distinct, even in all these various interpretations. While London itself is a global city, it is questionable whether representations of it can have a globalized aesthetic. One could argue that the most distinctive features of the city that occur in all theses adaptations, such as the main touristic sights of London, contribute to a globalized aesthetic. However, the article argues that London is staged in different ways, often historically framed and creating various atmospheres.

    On the other hand, globalized aesthetic means popular in the sense that it appeals to people all over the world, which is a strong claim. Considering the multiplicity of cultures of the world it seems impossible. Kelleter argues that the globalized aesthetic emerges because of modern communication technology, which arguably is not a global phenomenon since it is not accessible to all.

    Neumann and Rupp also discuss a few adaptations whose main space is not England, but rather Shanghai and India, respectively. Ray’s description of India is argued as offering an alternative to Westernized imaginings of the place. However, subverting dominant colonial views by giving the colonized country a voice does not mean that the aesthetic of the representation is globalized. Discussing Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans, which takes place in Shanghai, Rupp and Neumann argue that the author “subverts the hierarchical orders and spatial boundaries introduced by colonial history and creates a dynamic plurality of entangled spaces in motion” (p. 170). This serves as a further illustration how the adaptations all take different approaches to mapping spaces. Even though all together they cover a broad range, they all over a subjective and new perspective on topographical representation rather than sharing a globalized aesthetic.

    Their argument seems to be that the topographical representations differ vastly and therefore it seems unlikely that they have a global aesthetic. For example, the adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes is strongly influenced by media technologies (p. 179). This can be regarded as modern rather than global. In contrast, Ray’s description of London is described as “colonization in reverse”, which does not make it seem that a globalized aesthetic was in the foreground.

    Nevertheless, Rupp and Neumann regard the figure of Sherlock itself as global (p.176), meaning that he can be written in different places and somehow it always works. It is not the way the spaces are written that can be seen as globalized but rather that the main character can be relocated and adapted to various spaces. They argue that “the various adaptations and remediations themselves constitute a complex transcultural network, a globally entangled topography”. As far as I understood, this does not refer to the aesthetic but rather that the settings of the adaptations cover the globe, sometimes even within one single adaptation.

  11. Historically, serialization and serial text forms have had similar features. Aspects of contemporary fanfiction and fan production can be found even as early as the Arthurian legends. Norman “fans” added characters to the narrative similar to the way fanfiction writers add OCs (Original Characters) to the Universe they are retelling. Through the dissemination and retelling of a narrative more consumers have access to the story and the opportunity to add to its universe.

    Already this aspect gives way to the idea of convergence. Nowadays, the dissemination of a narrative is far more prevalent through various technological advances. The free flow of information not only between people but also between media platforms makes it easier for consumers to become producers and change products to be more to their liking.

    This fan participation, though in a different capacity, can also be seen in the first surge of serialized fiction during the Victorian era. Writers such as Dickens, Doyle, Dumas and Melville published many of their novels in a periodical or feuilleton. Many of these stories were written at the same time as they were published which opened up the possibility of changing the narrative to the liking of the audience.

    The success of these serialized forms and the audiences’ appetite for more, which can be seen in the audiences cry for Sherlock Holmes resurrection by Doyle (an aspect commonly found in contemporary soap operas or telenovelas), led to very long narratives. Contemporary audio and audio-visual serialized forms show a similar proclivity to long lasting narratives, the deferral of closure and the idea of “What happens next?”.

    To get back to convergence, it is clear to see that convergence, and the emergence of new media platforms and delivery technologies, serialized forms were benefitted. This has led to an interdependency of the one to the other. Seriality would not be so prevalent were it not for convergence and the possibilities of dissemination convergence offers. On the other hand the constant consumption and prevalence of serialized forms and the free flow of these forms drive an ever more converging culture.

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