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.”
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.