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Mountains have always stirred the human imagination, playing a crucial role in the cultural evolution of peoples around the globe and becoming infused with meaning in the process. Beyond their geographical–geological significance, mountains affect the topography of the mind, whether as objects of peril or attraction, of spiritual enlightenment or existential fulfillment, of philosophical contemplation or aesthetic inspiration. Heights of Reflection challenges the oversimplified assumption that human interaction with mountains is a distinctly modern development, one that began with the empowerment of the individual in the wake of Enlightenment rationalism and Romantic subjectivity. These essays by European and North American scholars examine the lure of mountains in German literature, philosophy, film, music, and culture from the Middle Ages to the present, with a focus on the interaction between humans and the alpine environment. The contributors consider mountains not as mere symbolic tropes or literary metaphors, but as constituting a tangible reality that informs the experiences and ideas of writers, naturalists, philosophers, filmmakers, and composers. Overall, Heights of Reflection seeks to provide multiple answers to questions regarding the cultural significance of mountains as well as the physical practice of climbing them.
Sean Ireton is Associate Professor of German at the University of Missouri. Caroline Schaumann is Associate Professor of German Studies at Emory University.
- Peter Arnds
- Olaf Berwald
- Albrecht Classen
- Roger Cook
- Scott Denham
- Sean Franzel
- Christof Hamann
- Harald Höbusch
- Dan Hooley
- Peter Höyng
- Sean Ireton
- Oliver Lubrich
- Anthony Ozturk
- Caroline Schaumann
- Heather I. Sullivan
- Johannes Türk
- Sabine Wilke
- Wilfried Wilms
"(E)xcellent coverage of the part played by mountaineering and its representations in the recuperation of German self-esteem post-1918, and into the evolution of the Bergfilm after 1945 [...] What makes mountain space so interesting from the point of view of the imagination – one of many insights available here – are the ways in which time can be figured in it [...] (A) collection whose historical depth and breadth of reference make it a resource for scholars of the spatial imagination."
– Forum tor Modern Language Studies
"(A)n invaluable and intellectually lively contribution to a growing international scholarship on the cultural significance of mountains."
"(T)urns what could have been a tired exercise in Toposforschung into an absorbing and insightful investigation of geology, history, and culture [...] Overall, reading this book is in many respects just like climbing a mountain: [...] because, in the end, one can look back and contemplate a magnificent view."
– Journal of European Studies
"(Gives) extensive, insightful treatment to shifting discursive, cultural, and political valences of mountains in the German imagination [...] (T)he range of the collection is quite broad. Nonetheless, the [...] essays on poetry, film, literature, and music address a set of related questions [...] (T)o be praised not only for being the first to treat the cultural meaning of mountains so extensively, but also for tracing their meanings in such variety and depth [...] Recommended."
"(A)n impressive high mountain tour that as it goes on opens vistas on not-yet-climbed routes."
– German Studies Review
"An excellent example of a variety of approaches in interdisciplinary environmental humanities, the volume presents an informative and critical addition to the study of nature representation in German culture [...]"
– Women In German Newsletter