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Heritage in the Clouds: Englishness in the Dolomites

BAINBRIDGE, WILLIAM (2014) Heritage in the Clouds: Englishness in the Dolomites. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Guided by the romantic compass of Byron, Ruskin and Turner, Victorian travellers to the Dolomites sketched through their wanderings in the mountainous backdrop of Venice a cultural ‘Petit Tour’ of global significance. As they zigzagged across a debatable land consumed by competing frontiers, Victorians discovered a unique geography characterized by untrodden peaks and unfrequented valleys. This landscape blended aesthetic, scientific and cultural values utterly different from those engendered by the bombastic conquests of the Western Alps achieved during the ‘Golden Age of Mountaineering’. Filtered through the cultivated lens of the Venetian Grand Tour, their encounter with the Dolomites is marked by a series of distinct cultural practices that paradigmatically define what I call the ‘Silver Age of Mountaineering’. These cultural practices, magnetized by symbols of Englishness, reveal a range of geographic concerns that are more ethnographic than imperialistic, more feminine than masculine, more artistic than sportive – rather than racing to summits, the Silver Age is about rambling, rather than conquering peaks, it is about sketching them in fully articulated interaction with the Dolomite landscape. Through these practices, the Dolomite Mountains came to be known in England as ‘Titian Country’, spurring among Victorian travellers the sentimental drive to ramble in the backgrounds of Titian’s paintings. Freed from their historical conditions and rehashed in different discursive patterns, these symbols of Englishness re-emerge through a history collapsed through geography: a heritage that is subtly, if controversially, exploited today in the wake of the recent inscription of the Dolomites onto the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Heritage; Landscape; Dolomites; Englishness; Mountains; Mountaineering; Venice; Alpine Club; Picturesque; Art; Nineteenth Century; John Ruskin; Titian; J.M.W. Turner.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Aug 2014 15:23

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