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“I Don’t Think the Two Would Be the Same Without Each Other”: Portmeirion as Unintentional Paratext

Author:

Abby Waysdorf

Utrecht University, NL
About Abby
Dr. Abby Waysdorf is a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University, where she is part of the project European History Reloaded: Curation and Appropriation of Digital Audiovisual Heritage (CADEAH). Her research focuses on the use of European audiovisual heritage and its use in identity work. Previously, she was a lecturer and PhD candidate at Erasmus University Rotterdam, where she completed her dissertation "Placing Fandom: Film Tourism in Contemporary Fan Culture."
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Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between the fans and fandom of 1960s cult television favorite The Prisoner and its main filming location of Portmeirion in north Wales. Specifically, it explores the way in which Portmeirion has been utilized as a paratext of The Prisoner, a way in which to expand the experience and understanding of the show, and what this suggests about film tourism as a practice. It does so via an ethnographic approach, drawing upon 16 interviews with fans of The Prisoner who are regular visitors to Portmeirion, participatory observation in Portmeirion, and analysis of fan texts. Through these methods, it is shown how Prisoner fans develop their paratextual understanding of Portmeirion, exploring what elements from the narratives of the show, the show’s creation, and Portmeirion’s story are utilized, and how this has worked over time as fans make visiting a regular part of their lives. In doing so, it shows not only how place and tourism have become integral to understanding The Prisoner for many of its long-term fans, but suggests that filming locations can be more generally thought of as "unintentional" (as in, not designed for the purpose) paratexts, and that paratextual theory is necessary for understanding what film tourism as a practice is.
How to Cite: Waysdorf, A., 2019. “I Don’t Think the Two Would Be the Same Without Each Other”: Portmeirion as Unintentional Paratext. JOMEC Journal, (14), pp.33–52. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/jomec.178
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Published on 12 Nov 2019.
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