Profs & Pints: Getting Down in Downton Abbey
Profs and Pints presents: Getting Down in Downton Abbey, an analysis of the dramatic series' depictions of sex and sexuality, with Julie Taddeo, professor of British history at the University of Maryland at College Park.
Downton Abbey is the most watched period drama in TV history. For six seasons millions followed the Crawley family and their staff below stairs as they lived through Britains Edwardian golden age, the First World War and the Roaring Twenties. Thanks to tourism to Highclere Castle, Downton-themed merchandising, and an upcoming movie, it continues to capture widespread public interest. Yet, despite (or perhaps because of) its popular success, Downton has been panned by most historians as presenting history through nostalgia-colored glasses.
There is still much in Downton that subverts our expectations, however, and this talk will focus on its story lines about sex can be read as empowering and transgressive. From Lady Marys multiple attempts to find pleasure in the bedroom, to story lines about birth control, abortion, rape, and homosexuality, Downton is, as one fan declares, nothing like the show that would be on at your grandparents' house if they didn't have cable when you were a kid.
Comparing it to other popular costume dramas like Poldark, Peaky Blinders, and Call the Midwife, well also see how these types of historical fictions are as much about our own time and values as they are about the past being represented on our small screens.
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