Sherlock Holmes and the Case for Toxic Masculinity

Authored by: Ashley Morgan

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Communication

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138329188
eBook ISBN: 9780429448317
Adobe ISBN:


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The presence of toxic masculinity, which often appears as random violence such as road rage or high school shootings, is partly attributed to patriarchal values of hegemonic masculinity embedded in society. This chapter traces the thread of toxic masculinity back to one possible provenance of its hegemony in popular culture: the mythopoetic figure of Sherlock Holmes. Examining gendered depictions that link 19th-century literature to post-millennial media, this study explores how representations in the BBC's Sherlock and CBS's Elementary feature toxic masculinity in prominent ways. Through an analysis of the role of language in performances of this famous character, this chapter investigates the longevity of toxic masculinity in popular culture, elaborating and augmenting recent research with historical and contemporary factors contextualizing its emergence and persistence.

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