Popular attractions: Tourism, heterosexuality, and sites of American culture
AuthorBrigham, Ann Elizabeth
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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Abstract"Popular Attractions: Tourism, Heterosexuality, and Sites of American Culture" investigates the serious business of pleasure, analyzing the circuits of desire that link stories of tourism and heterosexuality. I assert that the core impulses of tourism persistently shape American identity. Though the technology changes, the story perseveres: subjects leave the familiar behind in order to find themselves elsewhere. Quite simply, they ground themselves through movement. Tracing protagonists' upward and outward movements, I argue that the preservation of the American myth of mobility requires multiple conquests--geographical, cultural, sexual, ethno-racial, and economic. Examining literary narratives and tourist trends from the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries, I suggest how a changing rhetoric of productivity anchors and threatens the parameters of pleasure. As the erotics of sightseeing dovetail with those of heterosexual romance, a twinned desire for defamiliarization and domestication emerges. The subject simultaneously yearns for mobility and placement. I conclude that the narrative patterns of fiction, film, and popular tourist sites generate and capitalize on the queasiness produced by this dual desire. As feminist geographer Doreen Massey has noted, social relations "necessarily have a spatial form" (120). The narratives of geographical movement I discuss romance the possibility of new social intimacies with ambivalent results, as indicated by the repeated erasure, revision, and defense of multiple boundaries. In the introduction I analyze Lynne Tillman's novel Motion Sickness to challenge the assumption that the objectives of tourism and heterosexuality are to produce and maintain a self different from an other. Indeed, while sightseeing and heterosexual seduction both promise the pleasures of inhabiting an other's locale, they also expose the impossibility of defining differences between familiar and foreign. Considering these issues in works by Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, Stephen Spielberg, Jamaica Kincaid, Leslie Silko, and Lynne Tillman, and the tourist destinations represented in them, succeeding chapters analyze the reassuring and continuous constructions of binaries like home/away, distance/intimacy, and familiar/strange, illuminating their instability by revealing how they become blurred, contradictory, or representative of seemingly disparate concerns.
Degree ProgramGraduate College