Mountain dreams. Mountains in aesthetic representations of dreams: between symbolism and space of experience.


24-25 June 2021 | Saarland University | Saarbrücken (Germany)

International and interdisciplinary conference organized by Sophia Mehrbrey in cooperation with the DFG Research Centre “European Dream Cultures”


Literary and cinematographic representations of mountains – and particularly high mountains – frequently depict them as national symbols and sites of regional identification. Also, on an individual level, mountains as sites of human life and experience play a significant part in processes of personal identity building. It is interesting to see that this influence of landscape on individual experiences of the self occurs predominantly in the unconscious. Especially in dreams, mountains feature prominently, both on a symbolic level and as spaces of concrete experiences. At this conference we will examine different aspects and functions of dreaming about mountains in literature and film.


With regard to classical schools of dream interpretation in psychoanalysis, the mountain will be considered in its significance as symbolically charged dream image in different cultural contexts. Within the symbolic framework of the unconscious, it is not just the outside of the mountain, the summit to be conquered, or the imposing borderline marking the horizon, but also the interior, its natural caves, artificial roads, mines and tunnels, that merit further investigation.


More generally, the relationship of individuum and mountains appears to be an area of considerable importance. Do the mountains have a fundamentally different meaning for people who are ‘native to the mountains’ and whose world has been defined by these rocky outlines for generations, than for those who come in search for self-awareness or freedom and visit the area on hikes, touristic or spiritual journeys?


From a historical perspective, the connection between mountains and trauma raises some interesting questions for discussion. Narratives from the Alpes demonstrate how in periods of war, the rough typological surroundings intertwined with the harsh realities of everyday combat, intensify the traumatic experience. But dreams may also become the sole meeting ground for a displaced person to encounter ancestors or their lost home. Finally, experiences of high-altitude euphoria, which are marked by hallucinations, may also be considered as oneiric border phenomenon strongly influenced by the topological peculiarities of the landscape.


This call for papers addresses scientists from the fields of art history, theatre studies, culture and media studies, film and literature.


Please submit your proposal in German, English or French until 25 November 2020. Please send your abstract as a Word file of max. 3.000 characters and a short CV to: sophia.mehrbrey(at)