What is a theme ?

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The entry to Euro-Disney

England, England at Disney's Epcot

We need to distinguish themes from related notions such as decor, atmosphere, ambience, and from allusions and references. When Paris emphatically presents itself to tourists, is it a themed place? Does Boston's Quincy Market have only decor and not a theme? Just what it does it mean for a place to have a theme?

My suggestion is that a themed place involves a self-presentation of the place as a self-conscious representation of something else. More precisely, a themed place has a unified normative grammar that controls the details of its decor and character, and a themed place self-consciously presents that grammar and character as self-consciously presented, as influencing those details, as different from the grammar and character of local everyday places, and as based on a unified ruling meaning established elsewhere.

This definition suggests several difficult questions.