Touring with Jane Austen

in Critical Survey
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This article examines Jane Austen's relationship with literary tourism. It argues that Jane Austen tours are more than just a fad that cashes in on Austen-mania, but that they become interactive paratexts which allow glimpses into moments of inspiration which in turn contribute to a new cultural awareness. Literary tourism creates landscapes that can contribute not only to an understanding of a new transnational cultural heritage, but an understanding of self. Literary locations are simultaneously a repository for historical authenticity and a series of imaginative representations of places or things. Today literary tourism may result from readers' desires to connect with the locations of a beloved novel, or find out what Austen was 'really like', but for visitors, historical and modern, the tour inspires travellers to imagine themselves within a particular narrative, whether it be a fictional narrative or a narrative of cultural ideology.