Urban legends and travel

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Mike Hanne once pointed out (in a lecture – COMPLIT 202: Interpreting Folktales, University of Auckland 2001) that lots of urban legends are associated with travel… ‘What is attractive and what is frightening about being away from home/where you are comfortable?’ he asked…

Consider stories about losing kidneys (for example) in the airport, on the plane, in Disneyland, etc…

or the urban legends associated with restaurants – especially those run by other ethnic groups (cats going missing near Chinese neighbourhoods, for example, or – more recently – near the New Zealander living in small town France)

“In the telling of these stories,” Mike explained, “part of the psychological point is that they’re pushing the question ‘what will you believe?'”

Do these legends require the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’? or is some other narrative tradition in play?

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