Fairytale authenticity: historic city tourism, Harry Potter, medievalism and the magical gaze

Lovell, J. (2019) Fairytale authenticity: historic city tourism, Harry Potter, medievalism and the magical gaze. Journal of Heritage Tourism. ISSN 1743-873X.

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This article makes an original contribution to debates about heritage authenticity by linking tourist experiences of the medieval historic environment to fairytales. Many capital cities such as London have been described as ‘cinematic’ (Shiel and Fitzmaurice, 2001) and this paper explores how historic cities have been compared to fairy tale environments by tourists. The architecture of many historic cities is preponderantly medieval, an era which is a popular object of fascination (Eco, 1986, p.68) and is strongly associated with fairytales (Ortenberg, 2006). Recent fantasy dramas such as Game of Thrones employ faux-medieval settings, establishing a fluid fairytale-medieval simulacrum. Lovell and Bull (2017) extended Fjellman’s (1992) categories of fake and real to generate a new typology of authenticity, the magically real, which is outlined in depth. The study used a visual methodology to examine fourteen historic cities including Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, York and Canterbury, demonstrating how the ‘magically real gaze’ (adapted from Urry, 2002) enabled tourists to use fairytales to imaginatively authenticate places. Tourists unfolded the agency of monumental cathedrals, and castles in a state of heritage flow, discovered the extraordinary-ordinary streetscape, encountered medieval hosts and observed apocryphal stories, as they explored forms of the heritage marvellous and the fairytale-medievalness of historic sites.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fairytale; authenticity; heritage cities; heritage tourism; magical reality
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General) > G0149 Travel. Voyages and travels (General) > G0155 Tourism
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Human and Life Sciences
Depositing User: Dr Jane Lovell
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 12:35
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2019 11:36
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/17715

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00