Online Class Spotlight: A Study in Sherlock

Cool online class for Sherlock Holmes fans -- good intro to critical theory

We’re so excited about our new online classes, and we thought it would be fun to give you a sneak peek at what’s on the lineup for this summer. Today, Amy’s sharing the details about her high school Sherlock Holmes critical theory course: A Study in Sherlock.

What is your class about?

Over the five sessions in this class, we’ll be exploring four different imaginings of a single Sherlock Holmes narrative, beginning with the original short story “A Scandal in Bohemia” and moving on to more and less traditional adaptations of the mystery, considering similarities, differences, and questions generated by the different texts. We’ll finish by reading a critical essay about the text together.

What will students learn?

By the time this class is over, students will be annoyingly good at critically consuming media and discussing it intelligently. We’ll touch on some big picture critical perspectives, including feminism, post-colonialism, structuralism, and psychoanalysis, to give specific vocabulary to our conversations.

What is your favorite thing about teaching this class?

Geeking out over Sherlock Holmes with other people who are excited to geek out over Sherlock Holmes? That’s totally how I want to spend my summer vacation.

Who would you recommend this class for?

This is a great literature class for teens who are ready to make the leap into real critical theory.

Why did you decide to teach this class?

When I was in high school, I loved books but I found my English classes kind of frustrating. It always seemed like you were supposed to be following a specific map, stopping at specific landmarks, and arriving at a fixed destination. Books just seemed more fluid than that to me—so I was thrilled in college to discover critical theory, which is all about exploring texts from lots of different angles. (And often—gasp!—treating things like television shows or art installations as texts, too.) I thought digging into one particular story and looking at how it’s been explored across different time periods and media would make a great, meaty introduction to critical theory—and since I find the Sherlock Holmes narratives pretty irresistible and totally fangirl over the BBC’s transposed-to-modern-London adaptation, choosing Holmes as the focus of the class seemed, well, elementary.