Downton Abbey
Critical Contexts

By Category By Season Assignment


In Spring 2014, students in English 635 "Downton Abbey in Context" began an online resource to accompany Downton Abbey, so other viewers could have information about the series and its themes. Students chose from a list of about fifty entries, and they followed the directions and expectations in the assignment below.

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This assignment will ask you demonstrate a range of skills which connect to the learning outcomes for the course. As for Paper #1, you'll be looking closely at how a particular element of a text develops the text’s themes. You will also be using your research skills to demonstrate your ability to include other people's ideas in your own writing, to locate relevant historical and cultural information, and to use those ideas for the development of your own critical analysis and argument. Essays receiving high marks will become entries for the online resource and be posted to the web site for all to read. Therefore, the audience for your paper will be our class but also anyone else who has seen Downton Abbey.

Your essay should accomplish three goals. It should:

  • Summarize information about the person, place, or cultural reference, using at least four and no more than seven published sources, available online or from print periodicals or books.
  • Develop a "close reading" of the scene(s) in which the person, place, or cultural reference appears: What does its appearance mean for our interpretation of that scene, that narrative moment, that character's speech?
  • Argue for the significance of this person, place, or cultural reference to a theme of the series as a whole: How does its appearance help to develop that theme of Downton Abbey?

Your thesis, then, will make a claim about how the person, place or cultural reference is significant to the development of the series's theme, identifying the theme in the thesis claim as well. The body of your essay will use the researched information, the series, and your analytical skills to support the thesis claim.

As you write your essay, you will want to pay attention to the development of your analysis and your argument as well as the integration of your research.

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Subsequent entries will be added from future English classes at K-State who complete the assignment. Please visit again!

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Last update: August 2015

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