Maurice Isserman, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of History, presented a paper titled “Purple Mountain Majesties” on May 6 at Thinking Mountains 2015, an interdisciplinary mountain studies conference sponsored by the University of Alberta. This year’s conference was held in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.
Isserman’s paper, part of a panel devoted to American identity and 19th century mountaineering literature, explored the writings of John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and others. Isserman concluded that “mountains connect Americans with the divine (Muir) and the primitive (Roosevelt). They are places of renewal and redemption, where Americans reconnect with the values of their forebears, and determine if they still measure up to those exacting standards, spiritual and patriotic.”
The paper was drawn from Continental Divide, Isserman’s forthcoming history of American mountaineering, which will be published by Norton Books in the spring of 2016.