Laughing in the face of the past: Satire and nostalgia in medieval heritage tourism
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- D'Arcens, L. Postmedieval (2011) 2: 155. doi:10.1057/pmed.2011.9
Emerging out of the development of local and national ‘heritage,’ medieval heritage tourism is imbricated with modern nostalgia. Yet its relationship with nostalgic paradigms is unstable – skeptical about the possibility of representing the past yet striving to deliver ‘living history.’ Comic medievalist tourist attractions have attempted to manage this instability by operating in a paradoxical register combining ironic edutainment with a phenomenological evocation of the past. This industry's use of ‘medieval’ odor is vital to achieving this register, reinforcing the boundaries between the pungent Middle Ages and ‘inodorate modernity’ while simultaneously offering an experience of abject premodernity. Its satiric critique is more frequently anti-modern, aimed at the anxieties and hypocrisies of contemporary society rather than at the Middle Ages.