The female authors highlighted in this monograph represent a special breed of science writer, women who not only synthesized the science of their day (often drawing upon their own direct experience in the laboratory, field, classroom, and/or public lecture hall), but used their works to simultaneously educate, entertain, and, in many cases, evangelize. Women played a central role in the popularization of science in the 19th century, as penning such works (written for an audience of other women and children) was considered proper "women's work." Many of these writers excelled in a particular literary technique known as the "familiar format," in which science is described in the form of a conversation between characters, especially women and children. However, the biological sciences were considered more "feminine" than the natural sciences (such as astronomy and physics), hence the number of geological "conversations" was limited. This, in turn, makes the few that were completed all the more crucial to analyze.
Dr. Kristine Larsen is a Professor in the Geological Sciences Department at Central Connecticut State University, where she has been a faculty member since 1989. Her research and teaching are interdisciplinary in scope and audience, focusing not only on such standard disciplinary topics as astrophysics and general earth science, but issues of science and society and science pedagogy. In particular, two of her main areas of interest are women in the history of science and the impact of science on popular culture (especially the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien). In addition to her standard teaching duties within the department, she has also developed and taught courses for the First Year Experience program, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, and the University Honors Program (for which she served as Director for a decade). She is also the Faculty Coordinator for the Copernican Observatory and Planetarium, through which she engages in a variety of public outreach programs. She has been recognized for her dedication to excellence in outreach and teaching through the CCSU Excellence in Teaching Award, Connecticut Science Center's Petit Family Foundation Women in Science Leadership Award, and Walter Scott Houston award of the North East Region of the Astronomical League, among other honors. She is currently an Assistant Editor for the Astronomical League's Reflector magazine and serves on the editorial board for Waymeet for Tolkien Teachers Digital Journal and the Journal of Tolkien Research. She is the author of Stephen Hawking: A Biography (which has been translated into four other languages) and Cosmology 101, and co-editor of The Mythological Dimensions of Neil Gaiman (Recipient of the Gold Medal for Science Fiction/Fantasy in the 2012 Florida Publishing Association Award) and The Mythological Dimensions of Doctor Who. She has contributed chapters to thirty edited volumes and published 50 journal articles, in addition to over 150 other publications.
Preface. - Chapter 1: The Bedrock: Setting the Stage.- 1.1: The status of geological knowledge in the early 19th century.- 1.2: The role of religion in European geology.- 1.3 The role of religion in American geology.- 1.4 The (limited) role of women in early 19th century geology.- Chapter 2: The Avalanche Begins: Popularizing Geology.- 2.1 The popularization of geology.- 2.2 The birth of the familiar format.- 2.3 A space for women.- Chapter 3: Jane Haldimand Marcet (1769 - 1858).- 3.1 Biographical sketch.- 3.2 Main work to be analyzed: Conversations for Children: On Land and Water(1838).- 3.3 Commercial and Critical reception.- Chapter 4: Delvalle Lowry (1800-1860).- 4.1 Biographical sketch.- 4.2 Main work to be analyzed: Conversations on Mineralogy(1822).- 4.3 Commercial and Critical reception.- Chapter 5: Maria Hack (1777 - 1844).- 5.1 Biographical sketch.- 5.2 Main work to be analyzed: Geological Sketches and Glimpses of the Ancient Earth (1832).- 5.3 Commercial and Critical reception.- Chapter 6: Jane Kilby Welsh (1783 - ?).- 6.1 Biographical sketch.- 6.2 Main work to be analyzed: Familiar Lessons in Mineralogy and Geology (two volumes: 1832/1833).- 6.3 Commercial and Critical reception.- Chapter 7: Delia W. Godding (1812(?) - 1861).- 7.1 Biographical sketch.- 7.2 Main work to be analyzed: First Lessons in Geology (1847).- 7.3 Commercial and Critical reception.- Chapter 8: Other Voices [geological works written by women in this time frame not using the familiar format].- 8.1 Emma Hart Willard: American author of Ancient Geography (1824).- 8.2 Almira Hart Phelps: the sister of Emma Hart Willard, author of Geology for Beginners (1834).- 8.3 Mary Roberts: British author of the Natural Philosophy book Progress of Creation (1837).- 8.4 TBA.- Epilogue: The Death of the Familiar Format.