Upstairs and Downstairs:
The British Historical Costume Drama on TV
(from The Forsyte Saga to Downton Abbey)
The recent popular success of “Downton Abbey” calls for a renewed examination of such earlier BBC/ITV/Masterpiece Theatre serialized period dramas as “Upstairs Downstairs,” “The Pallisers,”and “The Forsyte Saga,” among others, that have aired (and have been repeated)since the 1970s. We also want to examine how more recent dramas like “Downton Abbey” engage with these earlier productions in terms of style, thematic content, and programming.
We are seeking essays for a critical anthology that addresses such topics (but are not limited to) as the following:
How the small screen period drama interrogates past and present gender/ class/race relations and notions of historical “authenticity”
Transatlantic reception /interpretations
How these TV serials fulfill and/or disrupt notions of “quality television”
The afterlife of the serialized period drama on video/DVD
The role of fans in shaping the content/reception of these dramas (message boards, role playing, Facebook and other social media sites that connect fans, etc)
The relationship between history, heritage, and the costume drama
Adaptation and the translation from historical novel to the TV miniseries
How history and culture are commodified for popular audiences
The feminization of history via the costume drama
The relationship between these series and wider developments in TV or popular culture more generally
How these programs have engaged with, or been received in relation to, ideas of region and regional difference
How the development of the genre been bound up with technological changes, such as the use of video, widescreen and (more recently) HD
Please submit a 500 word abstract and brief CV by April 15 to the editors,
Julie Anne Taddeo, University of Maryland, USA
James Leggott, Northumbria University, UK
If accepted, the first draft of essays (approx. 7000 words) will be due
Sept. 15, 2013 (guidelines from press will follow).
Please note: Individual authors are responsible for permissions for any images reproduced in their essays.