The Nineteenth-Century Research Group

Promoting an interdisciplinary approach to the nineteenth century at the University of Lincoln

Author: Alice Crossley

Dr Richard Fallon, ‘Literature and Borderline Geoscience’, 28th April 2021

The next Nineteenth-Century Research Seminar will be ,online at 4.15pm (for a 4.30pm start) on Wednesday 28th April 2021
We will be joined by Dr Richard Fallon(University of Birmingham), who will be talking to us about ‘Literature and Borderline Geoscience: The Case of Paranormal Paleontology in the Late Nineteenth Century’
You can register for the event using the EventBrite link below, by the end of the day on 27th April


During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, researchers in Britain and North America locked horns over fundamental aspects of planetary prehistory, from evolution to continental drift. Figures both within and beyond the elite scientific community addressed these controversies, frequently relating them to religious belief or exploring their implications in fiction. The story of deep history was far from unified in a climate characterised not only by disputing experts but also by occultists’ claims to see through time and the re-emergence of young-earth creationism. Novelists, meanwhile, took advantage of the most sensational geo-theories, turning lost worlds like Atlantis into literary mainstays – sometimes making more serious truth claims than their fictional garbs implied.

Focusing on print, my current project seeks to map this little-understood culture of ‘borderlinegeoscience’ and to determine how researchers and the general public navigated its amorphous terrain. This paper introduces the project before turning to a case study of clairvoyant visionaries, including the freethinking Anglo-American family of William and Elizabeth Denton. I show how literary techniques formerly developed to encourage imaginative ‘seeing’ through time were literalised in the Dentons’ writings of the 1860s and 1870s. These writings claimed to recount genuine visions of the prehistoric past made through the power of ‘psychometry’.



Richard Fallon is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the University of Birmingham. His collection of nineteenth-century palaeontological literature,Creatures of Another Age: Classic Visions of Prehistoric Monsters, is published this month by Valancourt Books. His monographReimagining Dinosaurs in Late Victorian and Edwardian Literature: How the ‘Terrible Lizard’ Became a Transatlantic Cultural Iconwill be published in November by Cambridge University Press.

12th April, Two Papers: Grace Harvey & Thomas Kupper

Members of the C19 Research Group and guests are warmly invited to the next meeting, on Thursday 12th April at 5pm.

Two papers will be presented:

Grace Harvey (University of Lincoln) – Robert Bage, Sorority and Friendship in the 1790s

Thomas Kupper (University of Lincoln) -The role of the stained glass amateur

Image result for robert bage novelist hermsprong

Both papers are delivered by current postgraduate research students in the College of Arts. This is an opportunity to hear about their PhD projects, and our final meeting of semester B 2018-19.

Refreshments will be served from 5pm in MB3202.