Entertaining Ghosts: Gettysburg Ghost Tours and the Performance of Belief
Thompson, Robert Charles
Frederik Meer, Laurie
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Gettysburg is the site of the largest battle and death toll during the entire American Civil War. Ghost tours are a tourism business and performance genre that arose out of the notion that the spirits of these dead soldiers have lingered on since the battle. Some tourists join a ghost tour in hopes of encountering a ghost, but almost all tourists expect to be entertained. My project is to define the ghost tour as a distinct genre and examine each of the elements that comprise a ghost tour performance. I argue that the most effective ghost tour is the tour that is best able to render ghosts as a potential truth and perform potential truth as a form of entertainment. How do ghost tour guides render ghosts' presence a genuine possibility for their tour groups? How might we understand performance and entertainment as a means to activate sincere belief?