Anthropology 345: The Cultural Worlds of Mountains

Credits 4

“What are men to rocks and mountains?” asks Jane Austen’s heroine Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. This class takes up this question and extends it to address a variety of cross-cultural, historical, and comparative entanglements between mountains and humans. Beginning with the comparative study of mountain ecologies, we’ll look at similarities in deep time adaptation to mountainscapes (e.g., the Andes and Himalayas) focusing on ways the environment shapes biological and cultural formations. Additionally, the impact of various contemporary environmental concerns (including climate change, deglaciation, and mining) will be understood in the context of adaptation, resistance and activism. We’ll supplement work in anthropology and related fields with the meanings of mountains found in literature, poetry, film, and philosophy. From definitions of the sublime to endless pursuits to reach ever higher and more elusive summits, this course will explore the many ways mountains have shaped and been shaped by human imagination. The class will be run as a reading seminar and writing workshop. In addition to short analytic papers, over the course of the semester students will craft their own “mountain essay” using ethnographic and creative nonfiction writing approaches. May be elected as Environmental Studies 345, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 345 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)