Never before has period drama offered viewers such an assortment of complex male characters, from transported felons and syphilitic detectives to shell shocked soldiers and gangland criminals. Neo-Victorian Gothic fictions like Penny Dreadful represent masculinity at its darkest, Poldark and Outlander have refashioned the romantic hero and anti-heritage series like Peaky Blinders portray masculinity in crisis, at moments when the patriarchy was being bombarded by forces like World War I, the rise of first wave feminism and the breakdown of Empire. Scholars of film, media, literature and history explore the very different types of maleness offered by contemporary television and show how the intersection of class, race, history and masculinity in period dramas has come to hold such broad appeal to twenty-first-century audiences.
Katherine Byrne is a lecturer in English at the University of Ulster, where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth century literature and women's writing. She has published articles and book chapters on Victorian fiction and medicine, and on adaptation and television, especially on the adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell for the small screen. Her previous monograph was Tuberculosis and the Victorian Literary Imagination and she has just completed a book on Neo-Edwardian period drama, called Edwardians on Screen: From Downton Abbey to Parade's End.Julie Anne Taddeo teaches British history at University of Maryland, College Park, USA. She is the author of Lytton Strachey and the Search for Modern Sexual Identity and has edited and co-edited the following collections: Upstairs and Downstairs: British Costume Drama Television from The Forsyte Saga to Downton Abbey;Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology; Catherine Cookson Country: On the Borders of Legitimacy, Fiction and History and The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV & History . She is an associate editor for The Journal of Popular Television and is Secretary of the Middle Atlantic Conference on British Studies (MACBS).James Leggott teaches film and television at Northumbria University, UK. He has published on various aspects of British film and television culture and is the co-editor of Upstairs and Downstairs: British Costume Drama Television from The Forsyte Saga to Downton Abbey. He is the principal editor of the Journal of Popular Television.