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Downton Abbey and the Curse of King Tut

By Roger Luckhurst
You must surely have been tempted on occasion to curse Julian Fellowes, if not for the script of Young Victoria, then for the creation of Downton Abbey, that death star of good old-fashioned aristocratic virtue and due deference. For a little while, all public debate seemed to be sucked through the funnel of Downton discourse, coinciding as it did with the election of all those shiny Eton boys to government in 2010. But don’t worry: he may already be cursed.

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The Oxford Companion to Downton Abbey

Now that Series One and Two, plus the Christmas Special, of Downton Abbey have aired in the US and Canada, we’ve decided to compile a reading list for those serious-minded viewers who’d like to learn more about Edwardian England, World War I, life in an aristocratic household, and what lies ahead for the Crawleys and their servants. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

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Downton Abbey: a national love affair?

By Lucy Delap
Downton Abbey specialises in dramatic twists and love affairs at all social levels. The world of domestic service provides an ideal backdrop for thwarted passions and sexual machinations of all sorts.

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Downton’s Secrets

By Deborah Cohen
Not long now, Downton fans. The beribboned third season wafts ashore in America today, though if the students I teach are any indication, the younger set (fervent Occupiers, some of them — savor the irony!) have already partaken via illegal means.

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Romeo & Juliet: the film adaptations

By Jill L. Levensen
In its fall preview issue for 2013 (dated 2-9 September), New York magazine lists Romeo and Juliet with other films opening on 11 October 2013, and it comments: “Julian Fellowes (the beloved creator of Downton Abbey) tries to de-Luhrmann-ize this classic.” The statement makes two notable points.

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Fellowes and the Titanic

By John Welshman
The latest news for period drama fans is that Julian Fellowes, writer of Downton Abbey, has created a four-part ITV mini-series commemorating the centenary of the Titanic sinking. However, what many viewers may not realise is that there was a real Fellowes on board the ship in 1912.  But rather than being an ancestor of the popular writer, Alfred J. Fellowes was a humble crew member and one of the estimated 1,514 people to perish in the maritime disaster.

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One Voyage, Two Thousand Stories

Downton Abbey opens with the telegram announcing that the Earl of Grantham’s heir, James Crawley, and his son Patrick, have perished in the sinking of the Titanic. Since Lady Mary was supposed to marry Patrick, the succession plans go awry, and this sets off a chain of events. But how likely is it that an English aristocrat would have perished in the disaster?

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A look at historical multiracial families through the House of Medici

The Medici, rulers of Renaissance Florence, are not the most obvious example of a multiracial family. They’ve always been part of the historical canon of “western civilization,” the world of dead white men. Perhaps we should think again. A tradition dating back to the sixteenth century suggests that Alessandro de’ Medici, an illegitimate child of the Florentine banking family who in 1532 became duke of Florence, was the son of an Afro-European woman.

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A Trollopian reviews the Doctor Thorne TV adaptation

Like all true Trollopians I carry in my mind a vivid picture of Barsetshire and its people. For me it is a landscape of rolling countryside with ancient churches and great houses, with Barchester a compact cathedral city of great elegance, as if Peterborough cathedral had been miraculously transported ten miles into Stamford.

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No cure for the diseases of American democracy?  

The American political system is a mess, but don’t expect that introducing reform and changing how the government is structured will cure all the diseases of American democracy. There is no magic bullet. No simple panacea. It would be difficult to argue that things are going well in Washington today.

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Our favourite brews for Hot Tea Month

Tea, tea glorious tea! When hot water hits the leaves of the tea plant, an alchemical reaction takes place producing an invigorating and refreshing cupful of pure bliss. Originating in the East, for thousands of years tea was a bitter medicinal draft. Finally, in the 17th century tea came of age with the historic addition of milk and sugar. This match-made-in-heaven oiled the wheels of the British Empire and it developed more than just a passing fancy for the beverage, swilling down its heavenly hot-and-wetness by the drum-load!

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Wars and the lies we tell about them

By Jessica H. Clark
Just east of downtown Tallahassee, Florida, there is a small city park known as “Old Fort.” It contains precisely that – a square of softly eroding earthworks (all that’s left of the fort) along with a few benches placed benignly in the shade of nearby oak and pine trees.

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Oxford Music in 2012

2012 has been an eventful year for the OUP music teams. We’re in reflective mood as the year draws to a close, so we thought we’d share our highlights of 2012.

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Our words remember them: the language of the First World War

By Charlotte Buxton
The First World War may be famed for poets such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Edmund Blunden (most of whom were officers), but the rank and file also made their own vigorous contribution to the English language. Remembrance, after all, isn’t just in the two minute silence. It’s in the talk that follows; the memories of those who gave their lives woven into the very words we use every day.

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