ENGL 635 "Downton Abbey in Context"

Spring 2020 ~ T, 7:05 p.m.

Schedule of Classes | Online Resource | Online Discussion

Class Discussion Schedule

Professor Westman
108B English/ Counseling Services; 532-2171
Office Hours: M, W 9:00-10:00 a.m. and by app't


Required Texts
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813) (Pearson Longman Cultural Edition)
E. M. Forster, Howards End (1910) (Vintage)
Barker, Regeneration (1991) (Plume)
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927) (Harvest)
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (1945)
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1988) (Vintage)
Online course readings (available through course web site on K-State Online)
T.V. and Film: Downton Abbey, Seasons 1-6 (BBC, 2010-2015) and film (2019); Pride and Prejudice (A&E, 1995); Pride and Prejudice (Dir. Joe Wright, 2005); Upstairs, Downstairs, Series 1 (LWT/ITV, 1971); Manor House (2002)

Course Description
Why has the television series Downton Abbey (2010-2015) been so successful? We'll try to answer this question by considering a variety of related issues, including genre, narrative form, audience, marketing, gender, and fan culture as we read and view a wide range of texts. We'll begin with literary contexts (Austen, Forster, Barker, Waugh, Ishiguro). We'll next turn to the influence of heritage film (the iconic A&E Pride and Prejudice) and other televison series (Upstairs, Downstairs). We'll conclude by looking into the fan response to Downton Abbey and its appearance in popular culture, both in print and online, as well as the popular fascination with re-living that period of British history. Throughout, we'll be considering the relationship between the historical setting for the series (England from 1912 into the 1920s) and the transformation of that history into art. Our over-arching goal will be to map the complex intersection of literary and cultural concerns that both create and perpetuate this popular and award-winning series.

Course Objectives:

Readings and Class Participation: Given the course objectives and learning outcomes stated above, this class will foreground discussion. Class participation is therefore expected and will count for 20% of your final grade. This portion of your grade includes your contributions to our discussions in class (in large and small groups) and to our online discussions (further information below). To participate, you must complete the reading assigned for each class session, think carefully about what you have read, and come to class ready to share your ideas. Excessive absences from our weekly meeting (three or more) may result in failure of the course.

Attendance: The University requires that students attend all classes in which they are enrolled, and so your attendance is required. Further, your attendance is important to the success of our discussions. However, I recognize that the unexpected will happen. Therefore, you will not be penalized for your first absence. However, subsequent absences will lower your final course grade; excessive absences (three or more) or excessive lateness/early departure may result in failure of the course. If you anticipate or experience excessive absences or excessive lateness/early departure, I encourage you to visit with your advisor or the Office of Student Life for guidance about your success in the class. If you are absent, it is your responsibility to find out any announcements or assignments.

Class Discussion Questions: As part of the class participation grade, students will sign up in pairs to prepare discussion questions for one of our class sessions. Questions for class discussion (4-5 in number) should highlight issues or themes you think we should address in our class discussion of the assigned texts for that day. After conferring about and drafting the questions, the pair should email me their questions by 7 p.m. the night before; I will confirm receipt and offer any suggestions for the order or focus of the questions.

Online Discussion: In addition to participation during our evening class sessions, you'll participate in an online discussion in Canvas. Each week, each student is required to post at least one paragraph-length comment about the materials we're reading and discussing in class. These posts are designed to help you prepare for or develop topics and ideas discussed in class and prepare you to engage in the public humanities by communicating your ideas and responding to those of your peers. I will read these discussions and assess a grade (at the end of the semester) based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness both to our readings and to your classmates’ comments in class and in the online discussion. I'll provide some weekly question prompts as I follow these conversations, and I may also participate, but I see the online discussion primarily as a way for you to raise issues we haven't addressed – or addressed fully or to your satisfaction -- during our regular class meetings. The work contributed to the online discussion can become source material for more formal writing assignments.

The weekly online discussion will run from Saturday to Friday, to encourage you to post right after as well as before our weekly in-class discussions, but I encourage you to contribute your ideas throughout the week and to check for others' postings. Your postings do not need to be long, but they do need to be substantive: they must be long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments whenever possible. I will offer models of successful comments early in the semester.

To post to the online discussion, follow these directions:

1. Go to my homepage at http://www.ksu.edu/english/westmank/ and click on our course (ENGL 635), and then "Online Dicussion" to login to Canvas and go directly to "Discussions." (You may also login to the Canvas course page for ENGL 635, and click on "Discussions.")
2. You should see all the messages posted to date and the newest threads first.
3. To post, choose to "reply," so you can engage directly in the conversation and your message can "thread" beneath the one you're responding to.

Critical Writing: During the semester, you will be doing different kinds of critical writing: not only informal postings to our online discussion, but also more formal papers. All students will write two formal papers: Paper #1 (4 pages in length) which offers a literary analysis of one of our assigned novels, and Paper #2 which analyzes Downton Abbey through the lens of historical research about a person, place, or cultural reference mentioned in the series. Graduate students will also write an essay review of four articles or a book-length study about one of our authors on the syllabus and a conference abstract for either Paper #1, Paper #2, or a paper that could emerge from the essay review.
You will have a choice of novels for Paper #1, and you will have a choice of many topics for Paper #2; I will distribute detailed assignment sheets for each paper. Both papers should follow the general rules of composition and be typed or word-processed with standard double-spacing, 1-inch margins, and either 11- or 12-point typeface. Title pages and cover sheets are unnecessary. Pages should be numbered, stapled together, and spell-checked. Papers are due by the date and time on the syllabus; late papers will be penalized one grade (i.e.: A to B) for each day late. (Note: The University’s Honor Code obliges you to cite the source of any idea that is not your own. Otherwise, you have plagiarized. If you do plagiarize, you will fail this course)
You will also write four response papers (2 pages in length) in response to our readings. Response papers are designed to prepare you for class discussion and to explore ideas you could develop further in your longer paper. In your response paper, you should not repeat previous class discussions or provide a mere summary of the reading. Instead, your response should begin to analyze the primary and secondary reading assigned for that class session, selecting an issue or theme or question you feel to be significant. I recommend that you select a word, phrase, or short quotation from the reading to initiate your response. (See the sample response distributed on the first day of class as an example.)

Everyone will write a response paper for our first reading assignment (Austen's Pride and Prejudice) and for Season 2 of Downton Abbey; for the remaining two response papers, you may choose from the remaining texts on the syllabus, being sure to choose one novel and one t.v. series / film. Response papers are due at the start of class on the day we begin our discussion of the reading of t.v./film. Responses will be graded on a 1-5 scale: 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D, 1=F. I do not accept late response papers.
Multi-Media Project: You will choose one of four possible multi-media projects to complete during the semester. Your multi-media project can be submitted on any class day but must be turned in no later than Tuesday April 28. Each project should demonstrate insight and understanding of the text with which it connects, should be thoughtfully constructed, and should be presented professionally with attention to detail.  Refer to the grading rubrics (posted in K-State Online as of 9/1) for detailed grading criteria. The assignment will be distributed the second week, but here are brief descriptions:
Examination: You will have a cumulative final exam.

Online and video resources: Along with some required viewing (see the television series and films listed under "Required Texts") and required online reading, I will refer you to resources available online or on video to complement our readings and discussions. Links within the online "Schedule of Classes" will take you to related online resources. I will add and update these resources as the semester progresses; if you locate a site or page which you find valuable, please let me know, and I'll consider adding it to the existing links.
Email: I highly recommend email as a way of touching base with me about your work for the class -- a kind of virtual office hours. You can send me queries about reading or writing assignments, your thesis statement for an essay, or anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I check my email throughout the day, but please remember that I am not perpetually online.

Conferences: I want you to succeed in this course, and I am happy to meet with you about your work and your progress. I encourage you to see me before exams or papers are due, or if you have questions about material we discuss in class. Please feel free to stop by during office hours (M, W 9:00-10:00 a.m.), or contact me by phone or email to arrange a more convenient time to meet.

Note: If you have any condition such as a physical or learning disability that will make it difficult for you to carry out the work as I have outlined it or which will require academic accommodations, please notify me in the first two days of the course. Any student with a disability who needs a classroom accommodation, access to technology, assistance during an emergency evacuation, or other assistance in this course should contact the Student Access Center and/or me. The SAC serves students with a wide range of disabilities including, but not limited to, physical disabilities, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety.

Academic Honesty: Kansas State University has an Honor System based on personal integrity, which is presumed to be sufficient assurance that, in academic matters, one’s work is performed honestly and without unauthorized assistance. Undergraduate and graduate students, by registration, acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Honor System. The policies and procedures of the Honor System apply to all full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses on-campus, off-campus, and via distance learning. The honor system website can be reached <http://www.k-state.edu/honor/>. A component vital to the Honor System is the inclusion of the Honor Pledge which applies to all assignments, examinations, or other course work undertaken by students. The Honor Pledge is implied, whether or not it is stated: "On my honor, as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work." If you have any questions about your work in relation to the Honor System, please ask.

Expectations for Student Conduct: All student activities in the University, including this course, are governed by the Student Judicial Conduct Code as outlined in the Student Governing Association By Laws, Article VI, Section 3, number 2. Students who engage in behavior that disrupts the learning environment may be asked to leave the class.

Conceal Carry Statement: In this class, students will be asked on a regular basis to participate in activities (i.e., engaging in group work) that may require students to either be separated from their bags or be prepared to keep their bags with them at all times during such activities. Students are encouraged to take the online weapons policy education module <http://www.k-state.edu/police/weapons/index.html> to ensure they understand the requirements related to concealed carry.

Statement of Copyright: Copyright 2020 as to this syllabus and all course materials and lectures. During this course students are prohibited from selling notes to or being paid for taking notes by any person or commercial firm without the express written permission of the professor teaching this course. In addition, students in this class are not authorized to provide class notes or other class-related materials to any other person or entity, other than sharing them directly with another student taking the class for purposes of studying, without prior written permission from the professor teaching this course

Undergraduate Students: The two papers will count for 35% of your final grade (15% and 20% respectively); the response papers will count for 15% of your final grade; the multi-media project will count for 10% of your final grade. Class participation (20%) and a final exam (20%) complete the requirements.
Graduate Students: The two papers will count for 30% of your final grade (10% and 20%, respectively); the response papers will count for 15% of your final grade; the multi-media project will count for 10% of your final grade. The essay review will count for 10%, and the abstract will count for 5%. Class participation (20%) and a final exam (10%) complete the requirements.

Schedule of Classes (Subject to change.)

Note: All assigned reading and viewing should be completed by the date listed.
[CP] = Online Class Pack, posted to Canvas. [W] = Web.

Downton Abbey: An Introduction
January 21 Downton Abbey, Season 1 (2010)

Literary Realism and Romance

  28 Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Booth, from The Rhetoric of Fiction [CP]
Response Paper #1 Due (2 pages) on Pride and Prejudice
February 4

• Critical Reception of Austen
Waldron, "Critical Responses, Early"; Trott, "Critical Responses, 1830-1970"; Rajan, "Critical Responses, Recent" [CP]

• Historical and Cultural Contexts
~ "Money: From the 1790s to the Regency (1811-1820)" (P&P, Johnson and Wolfson 344-348)
~ "Marriage and the Marriage Market" (P&P, Johnson and Wolfson 349-375); additional excerpts from Blackstone, More, and Porter (Samuelian 437-441) [CP]
~ "Female Character and Conduct" (P&P, Johnson and Wolfson 384-400); additional excerpts from Gregory, Wollstonecraft, and Gisborne (Johnson 391-397, 401-403) [CP]
~ "Male Character and Conduct" (P&P, Johnson and Wolfson 401-407)
~ "The Picturesque and Great Houses" (P&P, Johnson and Wolfson 408-424)

• Introduction of assignments for Paper #1 and Paper #2


Downton Abbey, Season 2 and Christmas Special (2011)
Discussion #1
Response Paper #2 Due (2 pages) on Season 2 and Christmas Special
Selection of paper topic for Paper #2 from list provided (bring 3-4 topics to class)


Modern Life and WWI

  18 Forster, Howards End (1910)
Sarah Stickney Ellis, from The Women of England [CP]; Coventry Patmore, from “The Angel in the House” [CP]
  25 Barker, Regeneration (1991); reviews of Regeneration [CP]; "Pat Barker's Regeneration: Critical Contexts" [W]
T.S. Eliot, "The Wasteland" (1922) [CP]
Discussion #2
March 3 Downton Abbey, Season 3 and Christmas Special (2012); Byrne, “Adapting Heritage: Class and Conservatism in Downton Abbey” [CP]
Discussion #3
F 6 Paper #1 Due (4 pages). M.L.A. documentation format.
10 Spring Break

Gendered Expectations

  17 Extended Spring Break -- Response to Covid-19 / Coronavirus
  24 Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)
Woolf, "Modern Fiction" and "Professions for Women" [CP]
Writing Workshop I for Paper #2: Complete initial research for the person, place, or cultural reference for Paper #2; prepare and be ready to share during class a draft thesis claim and "Works Cited."
  31 Downton Abbey, Season 4 (2013) and Season 5 (2014) and Christmas Specials; Byrne, “New Developments in Heritage: The Recent Dark Side of Downton ‘Downer’ Abbey” [CP]
Discussion #4

Looking Back: Nostalgia, Heritage Cinema, and (Re)Staging the Past

April 7

Downton Abbey, Season 6 and Christmas Special (2015) and feature film (2019)
Waugh, Brideshead Revisted (1945)
Discussion #5


Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1988); Davies, "From Imperial to Post-Imperial Britain" (1-8); Shafer, "Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day" (1157-174) [CP]
Writing Workshop II for Paper #2: Prepare draft of Paper #2 and "Works Cited," and bring two hard-copies to class.


Pride and Prejudice (A&E, 1995), Pride and Prejudice (Dir. Joe Wright, 2005)
Hutcheon, from A Theory of Adaptation; Higson, "Heritage Cinema and Television"; Sutherland, "Austen on Screen"; Nixon, "Balancing the Courtship Hero: Masculine Emotional Display in Film Adaptations of Austen's Novels"; Hopkins, "Mr. Darcy's Body" [CP]

F 24 Paper #2 due (5 pages) to my mailbox in ECS 119 in hard-copy and to my email inbox as a Word attachment by 5:00pm. M.L.A. documentation format.
  28 Upstairs, Downstairs, Series 1 (1971); Strovas and Strovas, "'What Are We Going to Do with Uncle Arthur?': Music in the British Serialized Period Drama"; Brown, "Homosexual Lives: Representation and Reinterpretation in Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey" [CP]
Manor House (2002)
Discussion #6
May F 1 Essay review and abstract due for graduate credit to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5:00pm. Sample essay reviews.

The Downton Abbey Phenomenon


• Johnson, "Austen Cults and Cultures"; Higson, "Heritage Cinema and Television"; Uptown Downstairs Abbey (Part 1, Part 2); articles on Downton Abbey [CP]
• Review for Final Exam

  12 Final Exam (IDs & essay): 6:20-8:10 p.m.


Home | Previous Courses | Women's Studies Links | Literary Links
Department of English | Kansas State University
Email: westmank@ksu.edu
Last updated 12 March 2020