Doing History in the Age of Downton Abbey

Journal of British Cinema and Television, Volume 16, Issue 1

Edited by Christine Geraghty, Julie Anne Taddeo

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Addresses how academic historians engage with Downton Abbey and similar programmes on a personal, intellectual, and professional basis

As representations of history, period dramas perform serious work, and can be used to discuss both historical and contemporary issues (voting rights, war and trauma, reproductive rights). The contributors challenge the narrow view of period drama TV as conservative nostalgia; through sharing their experiences with these series (as consultants, bloggers and public speakers) they suggest ways in which historians can navigate the boundaries between academic and public history.

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Introduction: Doing History in the Age of Downton AbbeyJulie Anne Taddeo

A (Very) Open Elite: Downton Abbey, Historical Fiction and America’s Romance with the British Aristocracy Nicoletta F. Gullace

Undoing Difference: Academic Historians and the Downton Abbey AudienceCharles Upchurch

Let’s Talk about Sex: Period Drama Histories for the Twenty-first CenturyJulie Anne Taddeo

Consuming Downton Abbey: The Commodification of Heritage and NostalgiaDina M. Copelman

Matthew’s Legs and Thomas’s Hand: Watching Downton Abbey as a First World War HistorianJessica Meyer

‘The new Downton Abbey’?: Poldark and the Presentation and Perception of an Eighteenth-Century PastHannah Greig

Julie Anne Taddeo teaches British history at University of Maryland, College Park, USA. She is the author of Lytton Strachey and the Search for Modern Sexual Identity (Haworth, 2002); She has edited and co-edited the following collections: Upstairs and Downstairs: British Costume Drama Television from The Forsyte Saga to Downton Abbey (with James Leggott; Rowman & Littlefield, 2014); Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology (with Cynthia J. Miller, Scarecrow, 2012); Catherine Cookson Country: On the Borders of Legitimacy, Fiction and History (Ashgate 2012); The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV & History (with Ken Dvorak, University Press of Kentucky, 2009). She is an Associate Editor for The Journal of Popular Television (published by Intellect) and is Secretary of the Middle Atlantic Conference on British Studies (MACBS).

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