Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

D''Arcens, L. 2011, ''Laughing in the face of the past: Satire and nostalgia in medieval heritage tourism'', Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 155-170.


Emerging out of the development of local and national ‘heritage,’medieval heritage tourism is imbricated with modern nostalgia. Yet its relationshipwith nostalgic paradigms is unstable – skeptical about the possibility of representingthe past yet striving to deliver ‘living history.’ Comic medievalist tourist attractionshave attempted to manage this instability by operating in a paradoxical registercombining ironic edutainment with a phenomenological evocation of the past.This industry’s use of ‘medieval’ odor is vital to achieving this register, reinforcing theboundaries between the pungent Middle Ages and ‘inodorate modernity’ whilesimultaneously offering an experience of abject premodernity. Its satiric critique ismore frequently anti-modern, aimed at the anxieties and hypocrisies of contemporarysociety rather than at the Middle Ages.