Since the days of Homer and Moses, mountains have inspired the arts in various ways. Mountains become a site where discourses on nature, the self, materiality and the immaterial converge. They were ... read more
Since the days of Homer and Moses, mountains have inspired the arts in various ways. Mountains become a site where discourses on nature, the self, materiality and the immaterial converge. They were perceived as sacred, as beautiful, or as places of terror, wonder and ecstasy. They both inspired aesthetic appreciation and scientific interest.
This course explores the mountains as an actual place and a narrative space, as it discusses the ways in which they were described, presented and imagined. It traces the changes and continuities in literary approaches towards the mountains as well as the aesthetic strategies of presenting subject and object, space and movement. The course will reflect on the presentation of experience and emotion and on how these presentations have been shaped by inherited conventions of literature and theology. We will study inner and outer journeys of the travelling gaze and the ways in which the mountains constitute decisive and indelible experience for the protagonists, both a site of pleasurable as well as traumatic encounters.
Instead of merely stating influences, tracing motifs, or presenting formal comparisons of aesthetic technique, the purpose of this course is to explore the narrative and poetic dimensions of the mountains as they are presented in both canonical texts and lesser-known writings. This course will orchestrate these narrative explorations within the overall context of an abiding aesthetic fascination with the sublime, the infinite, beauty and wonder.
Texts: A reader will be made available at the beginning of the semester.