Stendhal’s Gaze: Towards an hermeneutic approach of the tourist

R.B.J.M. Welten

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Is travel inherently beneficial to human character? This is one of the principal questions to the practice of tourism from a philosophical viewpoint and posed as such by Dean MacCannell. But it is also a question with a long tradition. In this article, I aim to elaborate on MacCannell’s initial understandings of Stendhal’s work as a starting point for the philosophical deepening of tourism studies. MacCannell has criticised John Urry and argued for an analysis by replacing the term ‘the tourist gaze’ by ‘tourist agency’. MacCannell’s alternative version of the gaze is based on the non-representational discourse of the tourist-subject. Based on the work of the French writer Stendhal, MacCannell argues that the tourist gaze presumes a second gaze which ‘turns back onto the gazing subject an ethical responsibility for the construction of its own existence’. Although this notion makes the tourist not only a passive spectator but also an active narrator, the narration is nonetheless never a formal, ‘factual’ description of the things visited and experienced by the tourist. Instead of objectively representing the world, travel in this respect becomes a way of constructing the self.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalTourist Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2014


    • MacCannell, tourist gaze, Stendhal, hermeneutics, travel writing


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