Carissa Baker successfully defended her dissertation, Exploring a Three-Dimensional Narrative Medium: The Theme Park as “De Sprookjessprokkelaar,” The Gatherer and Teller of Stories, on March 9, 2018
Pictured left to right are members of Carissa’s Dissertation Committee: Dr. Duncan Dickson (Rosen College of Hospitality Management), Dr. Anastasia Salter (School of Visual Arts & Design/Digital Media), Carissa Baker, Dr. Moniek Hover (on the screen) (NHTV University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands), Carissa Baker, Dr. Natalie Underberg-Goode (School of Visual Arts & Design/Digital Media), and Dr. Rudy McDaniel (Chair of the Committee and Director of the School of Visual Arts & Design).
Carissa’s dissertation title is Exploring a Three-Dimensional Narrative Medium: The Theme Park as “De Sprookjessprokkelaar,” The Gatherer and Teller of Stories
Though the global theme park industry is more than a half century old, studies of its narrative potential are in their infancy. The goals of this dissertation were to determine how the narrative techniques and technologies utilized by theme parks have changed over time and to articulate the characteristics that define theme parks as a unique narrative medium. This was accomplished using a mixed methods approach drawing data from interviews with creative professionals, archival research, fieldwork, and an analysis of more than eight hundred narrative attractions.
The project revealed that storytelling is pervasive in the theme park industry. It located the most common attraction types, source material, and narrative devices as well as the key influencers of techniques and technologies over time. It determined that theme park designers perceive themselves as storytellers; they design with narrative systems, embed narratives within spaces, and engage in public discourse about them. While the work illustrated that theme parks are in some ways remediations of prior mediums and products of convergence culture, it also identified six significant aspects of theme parks that make them distinct from other narrative forms.
This work expands on Texts and Technology’s focus on emergent mediums, fills a gap in narrative scholarship by analyzing data from themed entertainment professionals, and lays the groundwork for future inquiries into theme parks as storytellers and spatial narrative mediums.