Conference on Modern British History

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


Science for Tourists: The Roles of Geology in Nineteenth-Century Guidebooks

Historians of science are already aware of the importance of travel to expert scientific endeavours, yet the expansion of tourism during the nineteenth century enabled far more people than ever before to become travellers. Cultural historians have already drawn attention to historical, antiquarian and picturesque forms of tourism, but this paper will draw attention to the opportunities tourism offered for popular engagement with the sciences. I will use guidebooks to uncover the sorts of encounters with the sciences which tourists might have. The well-known mid-century mania for the seaside would lead to the appearance of plenty of marine natural history in tourist guidebooks, but this paper will focus on the earlier period. In the first half of the century, there was little explicit mention of the sciences in guidebooks, with the exception of geology. I will therefore focus on the main ways in which geology was felt to be relevant to tourists, and consider how these changed as the century wore on. In addition to offering industrial thrill-seeking and an informed admiration of scenery, geology would become an opportunity for souvenir-collecting.
Period16 Jun 2011
Event titleConference on Modern British History
Event typeConference
LocationDundee, United KingdomShow on map