Media, Mountains, and Alpinists at the End of the 19th Century

After the initial scientific expeditions and the discovery of the Alps as a “sublime” space, during the 19th century these mountains became objects of conquest. They were imbued with new meanings from both the material (economic, cultural) and metaphoric (ethical) points of view, in addition to their political significance. By the end of the 19th century the relationship between man and mountains had changed, with the emergence of a new figure who pursued specific rites (the ascent) and values: the alpinist. This figure embodied new roles and new ways of conceiving and referring to mountains.

I will review some of the earliest journals of the national mountain associations: Bollettino del Club Alpino Italiano (1865), Jahrbuch des Oesterreichischen Alpen-Vereines (1865), Zeitschrift des Deutschen und Oesterreichischen Alpenvereins (1872). These will be interpreted through the lens of literary and rhetorical analysis, with the aim of understanding how these journals and other media cooperated in popularizing this relationship with mountains, and how the emergence of the new alpinist idea, and its representation, interacted and modified each other.