1st Edition

Rethinking Darkness Cultures, Histories, Practices

Edited By Nick Dunn, Tim Edensor Copyright 2021
    300 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    300 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the concept of darkness through a range of cultures, histories, practices and experiences. It engages with darkness beyond its binary positioning against light to advance a critical understanding of the ways in which darkness can be experienced, practised and conceptualised.

    Humans have fundamental relationships with light and dark that shape their regular social patterns and rhythms, enabling them to make sense of the world. This book ‘throws light’ on the neglect of these social patterns to emphasize how the diverse values, meanings and influences of darkness have been rarely considered. It also examines the history of our relationship with the dark and highlights how normative attitudes towards it have emerged, while also emphasising its cultural complexity by considering a contemporary range of alternative experiences and practices. Challenging notions of darkness as negative, as the antithesis of illumination and enlightenment, this book explores the rich potential of darkness to stimulate our senses and deepen our understandings of different spaces, cultural experiences and creative engagements.

    Offering a rich exploration of an emergent field of study across the social sciences and humanities, this book will be useful for academics and students of cultural and media studies, design, geography, history, sociology and theatre who seek to investigate the creative, cultural and social dimensions of darkness.

    Venturing into the Dark: Gloomy Multiplicities
    Tim Edensor and Nick Dunn

    Part 1: Histories of The Dark

    1. Affordances of the Night: Work After Dark in the Ancient World
    April Nowell and Nancy Gonlin

    2. Shakespeare’s Darkness: A Stage and State of Mind
    Elisabeth Bronfen

    3. In the Night Garden: Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London 1800-1859
    Alice Barnaby

    4. A Short History of Artificial Darkness and Race
    Noam M. Elcott

    Part 2: Cultural Practices in the Dark

    5. Purda: The Curtain of Darkness
    Ankit Kumar

    6. Inuit’s Perception of Darkness: A Singular Feature
    Guy Bordin

    7. Darkness in Videogame Landscapes: Corporeal and Representational Entanglements
    Rob Shaw

    8. Dancing in The Darkness To The Darkness
    Nina J. Morris

    Part 3: Sensing Darkness

    9. Creatures of The Night: Bodies, Rhythms And Aurora Borealis
    Katrin Lund

    10. Contact Zones: The Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park as Creative Milieu
    Natalie Marr

    11. How Does the Dark Sound?
    Damien Masson

    12. Ghosts and Empties
    Simon Robinson

    Part 4: Designing with Darkness

    13. Going Dark: The Theatrical Legacy of Battersea Art Centre’s Playing In The Dark Season
    Martin Welton

    14. On Darkness, Duration and Possibility
    Shanti Sumartojo

    15. Darkness as Canvas
    Leni Schwendinger

    16. Designing with Light and Darkness
    Chris Lowe and Philip Rafael

    Revisiting the Dark: Diverse Encounters and Experiences
    Nick Dunn and Tim Edensor


    Nick Dunn is Professor of Urban Design and Executive Director of Imagination, the design research lab at Lancaster University, UK. He is senior fellow at the Institute for Social Futures. Nick has authored numerous books, journal articles and reports on cities, futures and darkness.

    Tim Edensor is Professor of Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is the author of Tourists at the Taj (1998), National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life (2002), Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality (2005), From Light to Dark: Daylight, Illumination and Gloom (2017), and Stone: Stories of Urban Materiality (2020).