Professor to give talk on 'Downton Abbey'

In five seasons, "Downton Abbey," PBS’s acclaimed historical drama, has taken us from the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 to Christmas of 1924. As we prepare for a sixth and possibly final season, it’s time to review past events and to reflect on where we are now. 

Drawing on literary models for the series and historical information about early 20th-century England, Jennifer Nesbitt will set some major plotlines in context from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 19, in The Conference Center at Penn State Great Valley.

The changing roles of women, life below stairs, African-Americans and Jewish people in England, the Great War and the role of older women in society — an important theme in season five — may be addressed. A slide show with video from "Downton Abbey" accompanies the lecture. Register for the free, public event at

Nesbitt is associate professor of English at Penn State York, where she has taught since 2003. A specialist in 20th-century British literature with interests in feminist and postcolonial studies, she received a doctorate in English from Emory University in 1999 and an A.B. (bachelor of arts) from Harvard University in 1987. She is the author of "Narrative Settlements: Genre and Geography in British Women’s Fiction, 1918-1939" (University of Toronto Press, 2005). She is currently working on a project called Rum Histories, which examines rum as a symbol in 20th-century novels as well as an article about "Downton Abbey." Nesbitt’s work on "Downton Abbey" began with an after-dinner talk for WITF-TV’s “Dine Like the Duchess” event in 2013, and she has been going ever since. She has also appeared on the radio program "Radio."