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Abstract

Dubbed “The Nation's Storyteller,” Historic Tours of America provides historically oriented tourist experiences through the operation of storytelling trolley and train tours. I argue that to understand the narrative potential of such tours, it is important to step back from the tour as staged attraction and examine its position as “threshold” in the interplay between place and story. In this article, I analyze the script from the Conch Train Tour in Key West in order to examine how the storytelling of the tour guide augments the experience of viewing buildings. In this example, the eye is directed to specific features of various doorways as a means of introducing visitors to historically defining moments in the island’s past. Drawing on Bakhtin’s theory of the chronotope, I explain how points of physical access into a building are used as points of access to that building’s social pasts. I conclude that the narrative strategies of this particular sightseeing tour highlight a relationship between spatial augmentation and architectural thresholds as a valuable way to explore the storytelling of place.

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