‘Downton Abbey’ College Courses? Yes Please!

Would you take a history course inspired by 'Downton Abbey?' We sure would!

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I don’t know about you, Bettys, but things like this really make me want to go back to college: Schools are now teaching classes based around Downton Abbey. True, they mostly just seem like a way to dress up history classes; but hey, if the Downton connection gets people learning, more power to it.

“The World of Downton Abbey: Revolution, Rebellion, and Re-Creation” at Oakland University is taught by Randal Engle. About the course, Engle told OU’s blog, “My Ph.D. work was in Wales and England, and there I became an Anglophile. When Downton Abbey premiered, my wife and I were hooked. But the show is enriched even more when one understands the context of the Edwardian era: The reforms and revolts of the 1920s were unprecedented. Then the thought struck me: Downton Abbey would be a great entrée into European culture and history.”

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So he pitched the class to OU’s honors college, and the rest, as they say… The course fittingly takes place at Oakland’s Meadow Brook Hall, a gorgeous example of Tudor Revival architecture; it covers English aristocracy, peerage, royalty, and the church of England, as well as the novel Dreamers of the Day and the whole upstairs-downstairs thing that characterized household life during the era.

Meanwhile, for those who don’t have the time or the inclination to do a full semester on the world of Downton, Camden County College offers a five-session mini-course called Downton Abbey: Life in a Country House.” Taught by Ellen Hernandez, this one focuses on issues such as class, inheritance, and technology, with a session devoted to each of five different topics.

And for the non-university set, don’t forget that there are plenty of books out there to help you read up in the subject. I’d recommend Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants by Alison Maloney and Servant’s Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance by Margaret Powell to get you started. Happy reading!

Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.

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