Passing through

Popular media tourism, pilgrimage, and narratives of being a fan

Authored by: Lincoln Geraghty

The Routledge Handbook of Popular Culture and Tourism

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138678354
eBook ISBN: 9781315559018
Adobe ISBN:


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With the rise of modernity in the early twentieth century and the growth of popular culture since the 1950s people have looked to their favorite sports teams, musicians, films, TV series, books, comics, games, and celebrities to build a sense of identity and form social relationships with others. As media fan texts diversify so too does the fan community, and notions of what makes you a fan change according to the financial value and cultural distinction people apply, and the social and economic contexts of the communities in which we live. At the same time, increases in the standard of living and leisure time have meant the tourist industry has also changed; growing exponentially as new technologies and methods of travel open up every corner of the globe at relatively low cost. While tourism based on texts and icons of popular culture is neither surprising nor new, it has become an important part of what it means to be a fan. From visiting the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes at 221b Baker Street to finding the birthplace of Charles Dickens in Portsmouth enthusiastic followers have been able to make connections to texts and people through travel since the Victorian era. Now, those interested in promoting such texts and people use tourism to reach out to new audiences and open up new ways of engagement. What has become apparent in contemporary tourism is that fans of popular texts are more visible, willing to spend the money, and able to travel further in order to get close to and interact with their favorite film, TV show, or book. Fans replicate the ephemeral and emotional experience of watching and reading by immersing themselves into familiar spaces and places they have only previously encountered through the screen or page. Fandom is now physical just as much as tourism is now mediated.

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