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Samuel James Conroy

Refutation Progymnasmata

Refutation Progymnasmata

            John Urry’s article, “The Tourist Gaze Revisited,” is an interesting piece breaking down why he believes that people travel and the cultural appropriation that these travelers bring with them intentionally or unintentionally. However, this is a highly critical piece on tourists that talks about how their “tourist gaze” is actually aesthetic appropriation. I find this to be an interesting take as I quite disagree with his overall opinion.

I agree with Urry on how advertising and certain rhetorical imagery has painted certain places to be these wild landscapes that one must see. This paints a picture that you should just travel to these places to see the view which causes a domination of the other culture. However, I believe that the general populous does not travel just to go see some view that is advertised throughout the country, rather, they just enjoy going to explore places for what they are. A majority of people travel either to just get away or to find themselves in some way they feel they’ve been lacking; it seems quite stereotypical to assume that people are traveling just to see some great view and then use it to appropriate an entire culture.  Urry states,

“Much tourism becomes in effect a search for the photogenic, it is a strategy for the accumulation of photographs.”

While back in the 1900s I believe travel was more directed towards this feeling, nowadays it seems the sentiment has changed. Travel is more widely available, and people can see photos online of the most beautiful areas they want to see, so traveling has evolved more into getting to escape from your current life in my opinion.

3 replies on “Refutation Progymnasmata”

I like the argument you made here, and to some extent I agree. I think that perhaps Urry’s argument is a little one-sided when it comes to his view of tourists, though also he does add a little nuance by describing multiple different kinds of tourist gazes. I also thought you did a really good job at refutation, because choosing this reading to do a refutation of was smart, as countering Urry’s very analytical theory was effective. Your idea is certainly something interesting to think about with Urry’s piece, and I think he does address something similar to this in the opening when he responds to critics of his prior writing on the topic.

I like the argument you made here, but I do believe you are supporting Urry more than you may think. Urry never suggests that tourists are purposefully or willingly acting out of some sort of insatiable lust to be colonialist, but rather that colonialism has created a more unconscious desire to travel and that this desire stems from a colonialist past. You, on the other hand, are speaking from a place of optimism, and suggest that not everyone is in a colonialist mindset all the time(which I agree with). This supports Urry because it gives him all the more reason to say that the tourist gaze is more of a system, and that we – subconsciously or not – act and behave according to a system that’s already been created.

Sam, You make a compelling point about the more personal reasons for travel, viewing travel as a way to “just get away or to find themselves in some way.” To improve in the art of refutation–certainly one of the most powerful rhetorical strategies, a strategy that will immediately increase your persuasive powers and improve your writing–I’d suggest further developing Urry’s ideas. There’s no more powerful move than to say “I know what you think, and I know why you think it, but you’re still wrong.” This is a common strategy for lawyers. But in order to really pull it off, paradoxically it may seem, you really need to carefully make THEIR argument first. You need to give as much credence to their ideas as possible; only then, having established ethos, demonstrating that you really get their point, are you in a good position to knock it down. It’s weird though because it might seem like you’d be better off NOT making their argument very carefully, right? However, nothing ruins your own ethos more quickly than failing to show that you understand the full complexity of the ideas of your “opponent.”

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