The Alpine Wild Man and the Nature-Culture Divide

Michele Tita (University of Tartu)

With this presentation, I will focus on specific examples of the Alpine wild man, a folkloric figure consisting in a human-like being completely covered in hair and living as a social outsider. 20th century folktales of the region have portrayed this figure as a mediator between “nature” and “culture”, who taught the vital technique of cheese-making to humans. Could the vernacular dualism of the wild man figure support the classical academic nature-culture divide? Or, on the contrary, is the wild man a fluid character that leads us to re-think the concepts of “nature” and “culture” in a non-dualistic sense?

Part of 34-04 Exploring the Human and the Natural World, Wednesday, October 20, 2:15 pm–3:45 pm