Search

DepositThe Final Problem: Constructing Coherence in the Holmesian Canon

The death and resurrection of Sherlock Holmes, a contrarian reading in which Holmes helps the murderer, and the century-long tradition of the Holmesian Great Game with its pseudo-scholarly readings in light of an ironic conviction that Holmes is real and Arthur Conan Doyle merely John Watson’s literary agent. This paper relies on these events in the afterlife of Sherlock Holmes in order to trace an outline of the author function as it applies to the particular case of Doyle as the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories. The operations of the author function can be hard to identify in the encounter with the apparently natural unity of the individual work, but these disturbances at the edges of the function make its effects more readily apparent. This article takes as its starting point the apparently strong author figure of the Holmesian Great Game, in which “the canon” is delineated from “apocrypha” in pseudo-religious vocabulary. It argues that while readers willingly discard provisional readings in the face of an incompatible authorial text, the sanctioning authority of the author functions merely as a boundary for interpretation, not as a personal-biographical control over the interpretation itself. On the contrary, the consciously “writerly” reading of the text serves to reinforce the reliance on the text as it is encountered. The clear separation of canon from apocrypha, with the attendant reinforced author function, may have laid the ground not only for the acceptance of contrarian reading, but also for the creation of apocryphal writings like pastiche and fan fiction.

Deposit“The Land of Liberty”: Henry Bibb’s Free Soil Geographies

This essay situates “The Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave” within the political context of the antislavery Free Soil movement, arguing that Bibb’s representations of land and labor reflect the concerns of Free Soil. In particular, it argues that Bibb’s narrative simultaneously critiques Free Soil ideology for its lack of a full-throated call for immediate abolition and its privileging of the white working class over both free and enslaved Black people. In addition, these aspects of Bibb’s Free Soil critique— both in condemning slavery and in reflexively challenging elements of Free Soil ideology—are more ecological than established Free Soil discourse, reflecting a deeper, more sensitive, and more radical understanding of material interconnection in regards to bodies, means of production, and topographies.

DepositCurating the infosphere: Luciano Floridi’s Philosophy of Information as the foundation for Library and Information Science

The purpose of this editorial review is to re-examine the prospect that Luciano Floridi’s Philosophy of Information (PI), and information ethics (IE) may serve as the conceptual foundation for library and information science (LIS), and that LIS may thus be seen as applied PI. This re-examination is timely, fifteen years after this proposal was first made, in light of the development and wider acceptance of the PI concept itself, of advances in information technologies and changes in the information environment, and of the consequent, and continuing, need for LIS to re-evaluate its nature and role. We first give a brief and selective account of the introduction and consequent reception of the idea of PI as the basis for LIS; more detailed account of the origins of PI, and its initial reception within LIS, have been given by Furner (2010), by Fyffe (2015), and by Van der Veer Martens (2015). Then we consider whether such a basis is, in fact, needed, and, if so, what the other possibilities might be, and then examine five particular aspects of the relation between LIS and PI. The conclusions, for those who do not make to the end, are that such a foundation is indeed needed, and that PI is the most appropriate basis.