Rape in Period Drama Television considers the representation of rape and rape myths in a number of the most influential recent television period dramas. Like the corset, has become a shorthand for women's oppression in the past. Sexual violence has long been, and still is, commonplace in television period drama, often used to add authenticity and realism to shows or as a sensationalist means of chasing ratings. However, the authors illustrate that the depiction of rape is more than a mere reminder that the past was a dangerous place for women (and some men). In these series, they argue, rape functions as a kind of “anti-heritage” device that dispels the nostalgia usually associated with period television and reflects back on the current cultural moment, in which the #MeToo and #Timesup movement have increased awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse, but in which legal and political processes have not yet caught up. In doing so, Rape in Period Drama Television sets out to explore the assumptions and beliefs which audiences continue to hold about rape, rapists, and victims.
Katherine Byrne is lecturer of English at Ulster University.
Julie Anne Taddeo is research professor of history at University of Maryland.
Chapter One: Rape Fantasy and the “Lawless” Eighteenth Century: Poldark and Banished
Chapter Two: Rape Responses, Romance, and Rape-Revenge
Chapter Three: “Dismissed, ignored, and woefully underreported”: Male Rape in Bridgerton and Outlander
Chapter Four: Rape as a Weapon of War: Das Boot and A Place to Call Home
Chapter Five: Procurement and Period Drama: Rape for Money in Harlots
Chapter Six: “If you can’t rape your wife, who can you rape?”: Marital Rape in The Forsyte Saga and Poldark
Chapter Seven: Rape and the Older Woman
6/3/22, BuzzFeed News: Co-author Julie Taddeo commented on period dramas in this article.