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Discovering the Footsteps of Time

Geological Travel Writing about Scotland, 1700-1820

Tom Furniss

Paperback (Forthcoming)
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Traces the history of geological travel writing about Scotland across the historical periods of the Scottish Enlightenment and British Romanticism

Discovering the Footsteps of Time probes the development of a distinctively Scottish tradition of geological travel writing from the seventeenth to early nineteenth century. The tradition tracks a fertile interaction of scientific and aesthetic themes, mediated through literary techniques, which highlights the emergence of ‘Romanticism’ as such; a distinctive, recognisable cultural movement of taste and style. Making an important new contribution to our understanding of the ‘discovery’ and representation of Scotland in the long eighteenth century, the book explores why Scotland’s topography has been decisive in the history of geology to such a great extent. Written by a literary academic rather than a geologist, the book is as much concerned with textual strategies and the aesthetic experience of geological discovery as with geology itself.

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About the Author

Tom Furniss is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Strathclyde. He has published widely on literature, philosophy, travel writing and geology of the eighteenth century and Romantic periods. He is the author of Edmund Burke’s Aesthetic Ideology: Language, Gender and Political Economy in Revolution (CUP, 1993).


Focusing on eighteenth and early nineteenth-century travellers in Scotland, Tom Furniss finds new and striking things to say about the literary inflections of pre-scientific geological writing. Combining extensive research with personal experience of the Highlands, for anyone wishing to explore Scottish intersections of geology, literature, and aesthetics this is the go-to book.

- Nicholas Roe, University of St Andrews

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