Dear all,

The panel "Alpine Myth or the Myth of the Alps in Austrian and Swiss Literature and Film" (NeMLA conference) is looking for a replacement paper. I had a ski accident and can't travel right now:-(  Richard Ruppel and Margrit Zinggeler are the other two presenters on the panel. NeMLA will allow the replacement participant to register without a late fee. Please contact Margrit Zinggeler directly at [log in to unmask].

The panel description is below - please note that both Austria and Switzerland are included.

Karin Baumgartner
University of Utah

NEMLA Conference

Toronto, April 30 –  May 3, 2015


Panel(s) (3-4 participants)

Title: Alpine Myth or the Myth of the Alps in Austrian and Swiss Literature and Film

The representation of the sublime in the Alps as a location of mysticism and aesthetic essence of nature as trumpeted by Albrecht Haller in Die Alpen in 1729 had transformational impact, in that it altered attitudes toward the Swiss Alps and the Alpine regions in general from a forbidden realm of passage, in which myths abound, to a region of scientific and aesthetic investigation, making the Alpine region a travel destination as manifested in the writings of classical German authors Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe in his poetry and prose and then immortalized in Friedrich Schiller’s  drama Wilhelm Tell which became the Swiss national epic. This literary, scientific and travel interest in the Alps gained momentum in the nineteenth century, the Golden Age of Alpine First Ascents in conjunction with the founding of National Alpine Mountain Clubs which spurred tourism in the Alps in close conjunction with the rapidly expanding rail systems, that brought visitors and sport enthusiasts comfortably into the Alps. Austrian and Swiss literature offers a plethora of authors such as Gotthelf, Keller, Meyer, Stifter, Rosegger and German imports such as Th. Mann, Hermann Hesse and Carl Zuckmeyer whose fiction is set in the Alps revealing the lives of the Alpine dwellers or of visitors to those regions.  Not to forget the influence of the Alps on English authors, such as in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes who fought Moriarty to death in the Bernese Alps.

By the 19th century, the Alpine regions became a place to sample the pure water, take mineral baths, enjoying high altitude cures, hence because a region known for its spas and its wellness and tourism began to flourish.  During the Second World War, the Swiss military devised a strategy to use the Alpine territory as a fierce fort, the “Swiss Reduit,” which metaphorically inspired a new national Swiss characterization. Furthermore, many sought literary inspiration in the Alpine landscape such as Max Frisch, Meinrad Inglin, or Annemarie Schwarzenbach.  The majesty of such a landscape inspires myth and lore from Johanna Spyri’s Heidi to Ödön von Horvath’s Bergmärchen, traditional myths which have spawned a new interest through recent Swiss films (e.g. “Alpsummer” (2013) and the controversial movie “Sennentuntschi” (2010), travel media, and literature by a new generation of writers discovering the lure of mountain life and alpine culture.  To be fair, there are two sides, the majesty and the beauty of the Alps, but also the dangers, the isolation, the poverty, the hard life of the Alpine dweller which is neither majestic, nor aesthetic evidenced by Franz Böni and other contemporary authors. This session presents a critical discussion of the “Alpen Mythos” both traditional and rediscovered.  Abstracts addressing representations of the Alps in Austrian and Swiss literature and film are welcome.

Karin Baumgartner
Associate Professor German
Department of Languages and Literature
University of Utah
1400 LNCO
255 S. Central Campus Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Phone: 801-585-3001
Fax: 801-581-7581
[log in to unmask]


******************* The German Studies Call for Papers List Editor: Stefani Engelstein Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt Sponsored by the University of Missouri Info available at: