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The romance of science: An analysis of positivist epistemologies in the New Psychology and Sherlock Holmes

Dykier-Bela, Abigail (2011) The romance of science: An analysis of positivist epistemologies in the New Psychology and Sherlock Holmes. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This study was conceptually aligned with Danziger’s (1994) historiography of psychology and aimed to offer a critical reading of the social discursive formations that aided the radicalisation of positivism within psychological epistemology at the Victorian fin de siècle. The analysis was concerned with the exploration of common ideological topologies present within the narratives of the New Psychology and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Sociocriticism (Angenot, 2004; Cros, 1988) was adopted as a critical analytic approach in the reading of the detective and psychological texts. The New Psychology and Sherlock Holmes were conceptualized as the embodiments of scientific and romantic narratives present within the Victorian social sphere. Visionary, prophetic and messianic themes were identified as constituting both psychological and detective narratives about science. It was argued that Sherlock Holmes and positivist psychology may be read as the romantic articulations of a unified discursive cluster.

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