Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Katherine Cochran

Advisor Department



The characters Sherlock Holmes and Batman represent a Gothic archetype aimed at uncovering societal fears and tensions. The thesis analyzes four Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and four Batman-centered graphic novels from DC Comics. By looking at the two in conjunction with each other, this project develops a more comprehensive understanding of the Gothic detective hero in the historical contexts of Victorian England and modern United States of America. The two characters are first explained in terms of the Gothic and as archetypal figures before being examined in terms of their similar contemporary social contexts. Finally, the project uses the characters as a timeline of social anxiety in order to predict a trajectory for the archetype. The thesis also contemplates the reasons for the popularity and staying power of the characters. Altogether, the two characters reveal more about the readers themselves than any crime committed in the plot.