During the nineteenth-century, the public imagination was captured by the study of the ancient earth—an imagination that was fueled even more with the discovery of dinosaur fossils. This heralded a “golden age” in geology, and this scientific revolution greatly influenced the emergence of new literary forms that would explain, interpret, order, describe, argue about, and bring into existence new and complex insights about the world. This chapter gives a brief overview of the nature and practice of geology, which at first referred to “theories of the earth,” or generalized systems explaining the entire workings of the earth from its origin to its end. The chapter runs through the birth and history of geology from the term's adoption by the Geological Society of London. The chapter stresses that the purpose of the book is not simply concerned with representations of geology or geologists in literary texts, but the fact that one of the principal practices of the geologist was, itself, literary.
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