FOLLOWING THE URBAN ALCHEMIST:
THE TOUR GUIDE AND THE HISTORY OF LONDON
Speaker: Geoffrey Levett (Birkbeck, University of London)
In David Gilbert’s words, ‘Tourism has played a significant but often unacknowledged role in the construction of the modern city as a place to be seen and experienced.’ One of the significant mediators of the city for the visitor is the tour guide.
The guide is both explorer and explainer of the city, delivering an interpretation of the urban topography that contributes to popular geographical knowledge. Guides offer a narrative of the city that can be as powerful as – if more contingent and ephemeral than – their printed counterparts. At the same time the guide is an actor in the pageant of the city, a figure whose own performance affects the way in which the visitor perceives the city.
This paper considers the historic roots of the tour guide in the nineteenth century before developing a research agenda for the investigation of the role of the tour guide in the representation of the modern city, which particular focus on the issues of guiding in London during the Olympic year.
Geoffrey Levett is currently undertaking a PhD on sport and imperial identity during the Edwardian era in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck. He has had articles published in The London Journal and in Bruce Murray and Goolam Vahed (eds.), Empire and Cricket: The South African Experience, 1884-1914 (2009), and has also been a Blue Badge tourist guide for the past ten years.
Time and Date: 5:15 PM, Monday, 28th May.
Location: Athlone Room (Room 102), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.
All are welcome. For more information, please contact Dion Georgiou, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
School of History,
Queen Mary, University of London,
Mile End Road,
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