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Title: "Why do you dress me in borrowed robes?" (Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 3, Line 109) : an investigation into the value of costumed interpretation at historic sites
Author: Malcolm-Davies, Jane
ISNI:       0000 0001 3617 3323
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis investigates the contributions made to the visitor experience at historic sites by costumed interpreters. It offers a comprehensive review of the relevant literature, including an overview of the pressures on heritage attractions in an increasingly competitive market, the introduction of innovative interpretive techniques to historic sites, and some insights into the consumers of these fragile resources. It also details the communicative role of dress in interpersonal communication from an historical perspective and considers historic costume’s potential as an interpretive medium. The many different forms of costumed interpretation are discussed in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, providing an overview of how the genre began and grew during the 20th century. Recommendations for the effective management of costumed interpretation are drawn from research into the visitors’ perceptions of the past and studies into the educational value of live interpretation. Two major surveys were undertaken and are described in detail. The first was a mapping exercise to chart the size and characteristics of the population of historic sites which employ costumed interpreters as part of the daily visitor experience they offer. The second was a visitor survey undertaken in four countries (Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States) which investigated visitors’ priorities when visiting historic sites and how they perceived the costumed interpreters had contributed to their experience. This survey compared historic sites which made different levels of investment in training, pay and costume for their costumed interpreters. Descriptive data from the first survey and findings from the second survey which reveal meaningful relationships between investment levels and the visitors’ perceptions of costumed interpreters are reported in detail. The thesis concludes with specific recommendations for investment in costumed interpretation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Heritage attractions