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The Bright Side of Night

Nocturnal Activities in Medieval and Early Modern Times

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Published on Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Abstract

In most societies, the night is associated with danger, criminality, the liminal, or death, and pre-modern Europe is no exception – on the contrary, its image is embedded in the romanticized view of an age that feared the end of day. Despite abundant research on this side of darkness, there was another, less obvious attitude towards the night which has seen much less scholarly attention yet: nocturnal activities that were cherished, sought after, or thought only possible during night-time. This conference looks for such positive sides of night: The search for the relics of saints, the night-time prayers, the pursuit of astronomy or other sciences at the foot of a candlestick, or social events that took place when the labors of the day were over. In short, we ask for the bright side of night in medieval and early modern times.

Announcement

Presentation

In most societies, the night is associated with danger, criminality, the liminal, or death, and pre-modern Europe is no exception – on the contrary, its image is embedded in the romanticized view of an age that feared the end of day. Despite abundant research on this side of darkness, there was another, less obvious attitude towards the night which has seen much less scholarly attention yet: nocturnal activities that were cherished, sought after, or thought only possible during night-time. This conference looks for such positive sides of night: The search for the relics of saints, the night-time prayers, the pursuit of astronomy or other sciences at the foot of a candlestick, or social events that took place when the labors of the day were over. In short, we ask for the bright side of night in medieval and early modern times.

Based on different methodological approaches, empirical evidence, temporal and spatial circumstances, the papers will discuss individual aspects. Their common aim is to focus on the night as enabler, as a positive time of day, offering chances and possibilities that a sun-lit workday could not provide. In doing so, we also want to open up the view towards our own perception of night.

Programme

Friday, 10 June 2022

  • 9:00–9:30 Vitus Huber (University of Geneva): Toward a Positive Perspective on Nocturnal Activities. An Introduction

Session 1: Temporality and Creativity

Chair: Mathieu Caesar (University of Geneva)

  • 9:30–10:15 Jean-Claude Schmitt (EHESS Paris): Why the Monks Do Not Sleep (or Sleep so Little) at Night
  • 10:15–11:00 Agnes Rugel (University of Munich): Vigilant Throughout the Night. The Watchman in Medieval Spiritual Poetry

11:00–11:15 Coffee break

  • 11:15–12:00 Chiara Franceschini (University of Munich): Artists in the Night

12:00–1:45 Lunch

Session 2: Materiality and Lighting

Chair: Claire Gantet (University of Fribourg)

  • 1:45–2:30 Maria Weber (University of Munich): Before the Bright Night. Methods and Materialities of Urban Lighting in Premodern Europe
  • 2:30–3:15 Sophie Reculin (University of Lille): Illuminated Night. The Development of Street Lighting and Nighttime Activities in the 18th Century

3:15–3:45 Coffee break

Session 3: Freedom and Order

Chair: Karine Crousaz (University of Lausanne)

  • 3:45–4:30 Adrian van der Velde (University of Illinois): Freedom, Religion, and Sugar. Nocturnality's Promise in the Early Modern Caribbean
  • 4:30–5:15 Marco Cicchini (University of Geneva): The Regulated Night. The Construction of a Nocturnal Public Order in the 18th Century

5:15–6:00 Break

6:00–7:30 Keynote

Chair: Andreas Würgler (University of Geneva)

  • Craig Koslofsky (University of Illinois): Whose Night? Contested Nocturnal Activities in Medieval and Early Modern Times

Dinner

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Session 4: Sleeping Spaces

Chair: Loraine Chappuis (University of Geneva)

  • 9:00–9:45 Sasha Handley (University of Manchester): Soporific Tonics and Early Modern Recipes
  • 9:45–10:30 Ilaria Hoppe (University of Linz): The Agency of Beds

10:30–10:45 Coffee break

Session 5: Spirituality

Chair: Anne-Lydie Dubois (University of Geneva)

  • 10:45–11:30 Romedio Schmitz-Esser (Heidelberg University): 'Ea vero nocte hiltegart...' Nocturnal Activities and the Dead
  • 11:30–12:15 Agostino Paravicini Bagliani (University of Lausanne): The Pope's Night

12:15–1:00 Final Discussion

Contact & registration

Please register by June 7th to vitus.huber@unige.ch

Subjects

Places

  • Bastions B002, University of Geneva - Rue de Candolle 5
    Geneva, Switzerland

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Friday, June 10, 2022
  • Saturday, June 11, 2022

Keywords

  • histoire moderne, histoire médiévale, histoire culturelle, nuit, littérature médiévale, histoire de l'art

Contact(s)

  • Vitus Huber
    courriel : vitus [dot] huber [at] unige [dot] ch

Information source

  • Vitus Huber
    courriel : vitus [dot] huber [at] unige [dot] ch

License

CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The Bright Side of Night », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/18vf

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