Peak Pursuits

The Emergence of Mountaineering in the Nineteenth Century

Caroline Schaumann

View Inside Price: $40.00

July 28, 2020
376 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
35 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300231946

An interdisciplinary cultural history of exploration and mountaineering in the nineteenth century

European forays to mountain summits began in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with the search for plants and minerals and the study of geology and glaciers. Yet scientists were soon captivated by the enterprise of climbing itself, enthralled with the views and the prospect of “conquering” alpine summits. Mountains inspired Romantic idealizations of nature and became a refuge from the industrializing West. As increased leisure time and advances in infrastructure and equipment opened up once formidable mountain regions to those seeking adventure and sport, a new model of masculinity emerged that was fraught with tensions. This book examines how written and artistic depictions of nineteenth-century exploration and mountaineering in the Andes, the Alps, and the Sierra Nevada shaped cultural understandings of nature and wilderness.

Caroline Schaumann is associate professor of German studies at Emory University. She is co-editor of Heights of Reflection: Mountains in the German Imagination from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century and author of Memory Matters: Generational Responses to Germany’s Nazi Past in Recent Women’s Literature.

Peak Pursuits raises critical questions and is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of mountaineering.”—Peter Hansen, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

“Schaumann offers important new insights into well-studied subjects, and intervenes into ongoing, vibrant debates about the mountains and human-environment interactions writ large.”—Andrew Denning, University of Kansas