From subtitles to SMS: Texting, EyeTracking and Sherlock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


As we progress into the digital age, text is experiencing a resurgence and
reshaping as blogging, tweeting and phone messaging establish new textual
forms and frameworks. At the same time, an intrusive layer of text, obviously
added in post, has started to feature on mainstream screen media – from the
running subtitles of TV news broadcasts to the creative portrayals of mobile
phone texting on film and TV dramas. In this paper, I examine the free-floating
text used in BBC series Sherlock (2010–). While commentators laud this series
for the novel way it integrates text into its narrative, aesthetic and
characterisation, it requires eye tracking to unpack the cognitive implications
involved. Through recourse to eye tracking data on image and textual processing,
I revisit distinctions between reading and viewing, attraction and distraction, while
addressing a range of issues relating to eye bias, media access and multimodal
redundancy effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalRefractory: a journal of entertainment media
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Subtitles
  • Eye Tracking
  • SMS
  • Texting
  • Sherlock
  • Television

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