Works of Literary Merit

I was very honored last month to be asked to speak to the community at Santa Rosa Jr. College. The English Department chose “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” as the semester’s “Work of Literary Merit.” As a consequence, there were a number of outside speakers, spread over a few months, including local Sherlockians (and long-time friends) Don and Joanne Yates, good pal Laurie R. King, and me. In addition, the faculty taught a number of classes launched from the Canon.

If you’d like to see my talk (or Laurie’s), here’s the link: It’s about 45 minutes of my version of the combined biographies of Holmes and Watson as well as Dr. Watson’s close friend Arthur Conan Doyle. It was a thrill to have more than 200 people in the audience, a mixture of students, faculty, and community residents.

I also spent some time meeting with faculty, to discuss how to use the Canon as a vehicle to examine the issues of the late nineteenth century, including race relations, colonialism, class structure, and the rights of women. Of course, I pointed them to the website of the Beacon Society (, an invaluable resource for those teaching Holmes-related material at all levels of schooling.

I also taught my six-hour course on “Sherlock Holmes and His World” at UCLA Extension in October. It was great fun for both me and the students! I will be teaching a 16-hour UCLA Extension course, spread over 8 weeks, on Monday evenings starting March 31, 2014, on the same subject! This will be part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for folks over 50–some guests are permitted, and I’ll eventually post info about signing up and whether under-50 people can enroll.

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