Life Downstairs: The Legacy of British Servant Culture on American Pop Culture
July 30 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pmFree
Part of the 2019 Grand Hotels Summer Speaker Series
While servant narratives have been popular for centuries, there seems to be a resurging interest in these stories in recent decades. Many contemporary British and North American writers, filmmakers, and television executives have turned to master/servant relationships as their subject matter. Films like The Remains of the Day andGosford Park garnered numerous Oscar nominations and substantial box office profits. PBS created such classics as Upstairs, Downstairs and Manor House, as well as the phenomenally successful Downton Abbey! Even mainstream American television has piloted its own versions of the British servant in shows as wide-ranging as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to reality TV’sSupernanny. Join Ann McClellan as she explores the history behind the rise and fall of British servants and why Americans are so fascinated by their stories on page and screen.
Ann McClellan is professor of English Plymouth State University where she teaches classes in 19th and 20th century British Literature. She is the author of Sherlock’s World: Fan Fiction and the Reimagining of BBC’s Sherlock, How British Women Writers Transformed the Campus Novel, and several articles on a variety of cultural topics, ranging from servants on screen to social media, fan fiction, and Sherlock Holmes. She is currently writing a monograph on race and Sherlock Holmes adaptations.