The supplement Katherine Kellock (national tours editor) wrote to the American Guide explains the design of the tour guides, and what kinds of writing this arrangement enables. In an opening passage, she eloquently fashions the tour route as a metaphor for history or narrative. If the route, in her schema, becomes the metaphor for American history, then the landscape becomes the metaphor for the nation.

As a rhetorical maneuver this framework is not without precedent. From the "city on a hill" to Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier thesis and onwards, the land has always held particular symbolic resonance for the nationalist imagination. The image of Florida in the state guide as rugged and enduring is linked to its status as "the southernmost state," and the language of frontier surfaces throughout the narrative.

In the FWP guides generally, social difference is linked (through the local color voice) to "peculiar sense of place;" what we get is a landscape of colorful characters, each peculiar in their own safe ways. If this landscape represents the nation, then we end up with a pluralist paradise, the diversity which we are all able to experience "out there," at a distance, through the experience of tourism/voyeurism.












Juliet Gorman, May 2001



If you haven't already, you might want to complement this reading of the interaction between the local color voice and the tour route with some more reflections on the tour guide as genre.

Did you skip (so far) the institutional history of the FWP? It would be helpful in filling in the gaps...

If you are done reading through the material on the history and methodologies of the FWP, you are ready to finish by looking more closely at how all this theory actually plays out, in the writing of the introductory essay to the Florida guide, the "Contemporary Scene."