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Skiing into Modernity

A Cultural and Environmental History

Andrew Denning (Author)

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Skiing into Modernity is the story of how skiing moved from Europe’s Scandinavian periphery to the mountains of central Europe, where it came to define the modern Alps and set the standard for skiing across the world.

Denning offers a fresh, sophisticated, and engaging cultural and environmental history of skiing that alters our understanding of the sport and reveals how leisure practices evolve in unison with our changing relationship to nature. Denning probes the modernist self-definition of Alpine skiers and the sport’s historical appeal for individuals who sought to escape city strictures while achieving mastery of mountain environments through technology and speed—two central features distinguishing early twentieth-century cultures.

Skiing into Modernity surpasses existing literature on the history of skiing to explore intersections between work, tourism, leisure, development, environmental destruction, urbanism, and more.
List of Illustrations

1 An Uphill Climb
2 A Civilizing Force
3 A Family Feud

4 Joy in Movement
5 Ecstasy in Speed
6 Modernity in Sport

7 Consuming Alpine Skiing
8 The Pursuit of White Gold

Andrew Denning is a postdoctoral fellow in history at the University of British Columbia.
"[An] intellectual study."—S. A. Riess CHOICE
"A great case study . . . Skiing into Modernity is a great read."—Gulnur Tumbat Consumption Markets and Culture
"Denning skillfully combines sport, cultural, and environmental histories... Skiing into Modernity is an excellent book."—Canadian Journal of History
Skiing into Modernity offers historians a brand-new vision of the Alps and a remarkably fresh and nuanced history of skiing. But, perhaps most important, it reveals just how much our physical landscapes and leisure practices have emerged in concert with changing views about how individuals should relate to nature.”—Annie Gilbert Coleman, author of Ski Style: Sport and Culture in the Rockies

“An engagingly written, beautifully illustrated, fascinating transnational history of tourism, economic development, environmentalism, and sport in the Alps. Taking a geographical space rather than a nation-state in which to root his focus on 'Alpine modernism,' Denning analyzes the evolving assumptions of French, German, Austrian, Italian, and Swiss ski associations, ski publications, and other advocates of skiing since the late nineteenth century. A work of serious scholarship on an admittedly fun topic, Skiing into Modernity will interest general readers, students, and historians of Europe.”—Stephen L. Harp, author of Marketing Michelin: Advertising and Cultural Identity in Twentieth-Century France and Au Naturel: Naturism, Nudism, and Tourism in Twentieth-Century France

“In the Alps, modernity arrived wearing a pair of skis. With this central thesis, Andrew Denning takes a refreshingly novel look at the Alpine landscape and its inhabitants, who were often said to be stuck in an archaic world. Skiing into Modernity is environmental and cultural history at its best. It crosses disciplines and, indeed, national borders. Wonderfully written and brilliantly researched, Denning wears his scholarship lightly, aiming not to impress but to inform and to understand.”—Christof Mauch, Director, Rachel Carson Center, LMU Munich; Past President, European Society for Environmental History

"Denning has written an exceptionally smart book on what it meant to strap on skis in modernizing Europe."—Joseph A. Taylor III, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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