So guidebooks offer us a way of relating to our landscape that is loaded, one way or another, with cultural implications.

Christine Bold argues that "the genre offers in situ users a powerful operation: simultaneous withdrawal to a more coherent, more mapped world and immersion in the felt reality of landscapes" (15). She points here to another function of guidebooks, a compelling feeling that tour description is able to evoke in its readers. What is this pleasure, this "felt reality?"

It's the sensation of voyeurism. Tourism is, for the most part, driven by the search for novelty. We want to visit (either physically or through our imaginations) exotic places that are different than our homes. Aside from telling us how to relate to these foreign places when we visit them, tour guides can evoke them for us.

This is one of the functions of local color writing; to capture "the romanticized spirit of place of the natives in rural areas" (Glassberg Public History and Memory19). Bold's term "felt reality" is particularly keen because it reveals the way that tourism (actual or imagined) turns on the axis of authenticity. In our search for difference, we want to make sure we are getting the real stuff.




Juliet Gorman, May 2001



If you haven't checked out the nature and history of local color writing, this might be a particularly relevant time, because you can understand it in relation to the voyeurism of tour guides.

Did you skip (so far) the institutional history of the FWP? It would be helpful in filling in the gaps...

If you are done reading through the material on the history and methodologies of the FWP, you are ready to finish by looking more closely at how all this theory actually plays out, in the writing of the introductory essay to the Florida guide, the "Contemporary Scene."