Fan Pilgrimages and Media Tourism Summer Course in London, Summer 2013


George Washington University have just announced this new course:

Fan Pilgrimages & Media Tourism (UW2020W)

Tourists have a bad reputation. We are encouraged to look at their experience as necessarily inauthentic, doomed to superficiality at best, and at worst as an ongoing opportunity to insult other cultures. Fans of popular culture also have a bad reputation. Even though the media assures us that we are in the middle of a “Geek Revolution,” that same media is also quick to characterize fans as over invested, sometimes creepy, but more often just sad people who still need to “get a life”.

What then do we make of tourist/fans?
In this course we will examine the growing phenomenon of fan pilgrimage (growing in the sense that the tourism industry is now catering specifically to this market). We will consider fan pilgrims themselves – why do they go and what do they gain from the experience? Does fan pilgrimage, with its religious connotations, accurately capture that experience? How does fan pilgrimage differ from media tourism? We will also consider how key sites are presented to the public. How are they curated? What sorts of narratives are constructed? What constitutes an “authentic” experience for the fan tourist?

Our presence on-site will raise some fundamental questions about the research process and how we construct meaning around these sites. A research librarian will accompany us for a portion of the course, allowing for expanded discussion of on-site research methods.

Although based in London, the course will include group trips to Cardiff (Doctor Who) and Liverpool (The Beatles), with optional days out (sites to be determined). In London will we go on the Warner Brothers Studio tour of the Harry Potter sets as well as a tour of sites of filming in London. We will also go on a Sherlock Holmes walking tour of sites significant in both the short stories and recent films/television productions.

Students will have weekends free to visit other sites of their choosing in London and throughout the UK. These sites can range from the homes of literary figures to rock stars, libraries to cemeteries to football stadiums, theatres to churches to concert venues – in short any places that hold significance to the student based on their own fannish interests. This research will form the basis of students’ final papers.

This course is open to both undergraduates and graduate students. No previous knowledge of fan studies is needed for undergraduates.

Application Deadline: March 1, 2013
On-Line Dates: June 3-6, 2013
Overseas Dates: June 9-July 5, 2013

For more information on this course please go to the George Washington University Study Abroad Office

Or contact Katherine Larsen


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