Université Toulouse 2-Jean Jaurès

14-15 October 2016


Anglophone mountain-climbing reports or travel books, while offering relations of individual experiences, give us an accurate vision of the non-human world in those areas. This is the same for mountain guidebooks proposing routes while giving future travellers information on the flora and fauna of the places described. We can wonder whether the travellers and mountaineers’ interest in the non-human world suggests that travel or mountain writing may be considered as an example of environmental literature, as travellers and mountaineers’ texts reveal a real conscience of the necessary inter-relation between the human and the non-human, be it animal, vegetal or mineral. Awareness dwells on the perception of the world around us, as is underlined by Kev Reynolds: “To gain most from the mountain experience I believe one should retain a childlike sense of Wonder for each segment of the natural environment and, where possible, refine the art of awareness; that is, strive to become conscious of each moment of being, and be sensitive to the world about you (Kev Reynolds, Alpine Points of View, Cumbria: Cicerone, 2004, 12).

Texts relating animal movements—migrations, transhumance—or vegetal ones—pollen transported by bees, seeds carried by the wind or birds—generate questions on this type of journey: can we speak about animal or vegetal travel narrative when a text describes the movements of the non-human? This calls to mind Jean-Marie Pelt’s texts evoking vegetal movements.

The movement of the non-human is also the movement of clouds, the daily movements of animals —insects, birds, fish or mammals—; the movements of nature linked to time or climate variations.

The conference will allow us to think about the role of the non-human in mountain travel literature, exploration narratives and in all literary or scientific texts evoking non-human travels.

– Can we talk of travel books and mountain guide-books as environmental literature?

– Can scientific texts evoking animal or vegetal movements be regarded as a branch of travel literature?

– Is there a wildlife travel narrative? Such are some of the questions to which some texts from various English-speaking areas will help us to find answers.

Kev Reynolds, a British mountaineer and writer, who is the author of more than forty mountain guidebooks offering routes in the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Himalayas or in the hills of Kent, and who also has published several mountain travel books, will open the conference as a keynote speaker.

We welcome proposals for papers of around 30 minutes. They will be followed by a debate at the end of each session.

The SELVA annual general meeting will take place during the conference.

Your proposals (in English or French) can be sent in the form of abstracts of 200 or 300 words to Françoise Besson ( and Irina Kantarbaeva-Bill ( before  30 May 2016.

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