Fan tourism and pilgrimage

Authored by: Rebecca Williams

The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138638921
eBook ISBN: 9781315637518
Adobe ISBN:


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Shortly after the release of the Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, in 2015, British newspaper The Guardian published an article about one of the key filming locations used in the movie, describing how “fans seeking an authentic Luke Skywalker experience are flocking to the location in their droves, many in Stormtrooper garb” (Doward 2015). Discussing the film’s use of the UK location, Puzzlewood, at the Forest of Dean in the Wye Valley and other examples including sites used in the Harry Potter movies, James Bond and the TV series Poldark, the article is indicative of a broader fan interest in the spaces and places seen on-screen within contemporary film and television. Media fans often have strong emotional interests in finding and visiting sites related to their favorite films, TV shows or celebrities since “fan-text affective relationships cannot be separated from spatial concerns and categories” (Hills 2002: 145). This chapter discusses the importance of fan tourism to our understandings of fans’ practices and experiences, considering how affective ties to specific places offer fans the “opportunity to relocate in place a profound sense of belonging which has otherwise shifted into the textual space of media consumption” (Sandvoss 2005: 64). Studies of space and place within fan studies have explored a range of practices related to important locations and sites associated with different texts and icons, allowing us to understand how fans’ relationships with beloved objects are not just dependent on interpreting or discussing favorite texts (such as films or TV shows) or collecting merchandise. Engaging in acts of tourism can offer fans opportunities to learn more about fan objects, immerse themselves in fictional worlds, and make connections with others who share their interests.

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