Site/counter-site: A semiotic study of the Gold Coast

Barcan, Ruth Margaret (1994). Site/counter-site: A semiotic study of the Gold Coast PhD Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Barcan, Ruth Margaret
Thesis Title Site/counter-site: A semiotic study of the Gold Coast
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1994
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor -
Total pages 430
Language eng
Subjects 20 Language, Communication and Culture
Formatted abstract This thesis is a reading of four Gold Coast tourist sites, organised around a theory of human game playing advanced by Roger Caillois. Caillois has defined four categories of games, each a recognisable set of structures motivated by a different set of drives: agon (competition), alea (chance), mimicry (simulation) and vertigo or ilinx ( physical excitation). I have used each of his categories to frame a reading of a particular site or event: the Gold Coast Indy Car Grand Prix, Jupiters Casino, Movie World and Dreamworld respectively.

I have focused particularly on the explicit Utopian pretensions of these pleasure sites, and on the relations between such sites and "ordinary" life. I have drawn on Foucault's conception of the heterotopia, as a means of encompassing both the discursive richness of these sites and their self-conscious construction as "special" places. In particular, I have investigated the intersection of each site's own sustaining and legitimating narratives with prevalent local and national discourses about the Gold Coast. Such discourses frequently take the form of local, regional or national fantasies.

I have situated my readings within contemporary debates in cultural studies. In particular, I have drawn on feminist investigations of spatiality, postmodern
questionings of the notion of "authentic" spaces, and poststructuralist approaches to tourism. A constant tension within this work has been that between the socalled structuralist and culturalist approaches, that is, between reading ideologies in texts and accounting for experiences of pleasure, or in Jameson's terms, the tension between the ideological and Utopian elements of popular culture. Within this thesis, the concept of such a pull has proven to be highly problematic and yet durable.

My project is thus a study of one very particular set of cultural relations, an investigation of the methodologies involved in "reading cities," and an attempt to bring together a number of theoretical perspectives.
Keyword Popular culture -- Queensland
Semiotics
Signs and symbols -- Australia
Gold Coast (Qld.)
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

 
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