The Enlightened Nightscape 1700–1830

Due Date: 12-20-2019

Traditional timelines divide the past into the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment, with their corresponding associations with ignorance, the irrational, and superstition in opposition to light, clarity, and reason. In recent years numerous academic disciplines have challenged this black and white view, converging in and on the night to study the many dimensions of the other half of our daily twenty-four-hour cycle.  The emerging field of night studies has examined the evolution of the meaning of night since the Middle Ages, its representation in different national literatures and art, and the impact of street illumination in the creation of nightlife, especially in urban centers, among other topics. This line of research is particularly relevant to eighteenth-century studies, as the Enlightenment’s embrace of light and reasoned knowledge makes it easy to overlook that night and darkness held both physical and metaphorical importance. The invention of lighting technology and economic growth, along with the rise of social infrastructures like cafés and the fascination with graveyards and other dark spaces, brought life and light to the eighteenth-century nightscape. The night became a source of inspiration for many writers and artists, and philosophers explored its hidden meanings.

The objective of this edited collection is to present a cross-disciplinary discussion on the thinking about the concept of night through examples from the global and long eighteenth century. The Enlightened Nightscape 1700–1830 seeks to bring together case studies that address how the night became visible in the eighteenth century through different mediums and in different geographical contexts. The proposed study of the representation, treatment, and meaning of the night in the long and global eighteenth century also contributes to an ongoing exercise that questions the accepted definitions of the Enlightenment. By bringing eighteenth-century studies into dialogue with night studies, The Enlightened Nightscape 1700–1830 enriches the critical conversation on both lines of research.

Contributions may consider the following topics:
•  Night, dusk, and dawn as periods and spaces of the daily cycle
•  Darkness and the (in)visible world
•  Nocturnal landscapes and architecture (cemeteries, forests, etc.)
•  The unknown, uncertainty, and obscurity
•  Urban and rural night culture
•  Blindness and sight
•  Public spaces and sociability
•  Gender and mobility
•  Astrology and astronomy
•  Shadows in art and life
•  Chiaroscuro and nocturne painting
•  Sleep and dreams
•  Nighttime animals (wolves, bats, etc.)
•  Evening customs (witchcraft, storytelling, crime, etc.)
•  Literary and artistic representations

In its embrace of the global turn in eighteenth-century studies, The Enlightened Nightscape 1700–1830 welcomes multidisciplinary topics, analysis of literary, visual, aural, and material texts, and considerations of nightscapes that extend beyond the traditional European canon.

Please submit a 300-word abstract and an abbreviated CV to Pamela Phillips ( by 20 December 2019. Authors will be notified by 31 January 2020.  Complete, original, and not previously published essays of 6,000–8,000 words will be due by 30 June 2020.