Unité d'histoire moderne

2022 : THE BRIGHT SIDE OF NIGHT. Nocturnal Activities in Medieval and Early Modern Times

International Symposium
10-11 June 2022 - Bastions B002
University of Geneva


Marco Cicchini, Chiara Franceschini, Sasha Handley, Ilaria Hoppe, Vitus Huber, Craig Koslofsky, Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, Sophie Reculin, Agnes Rugel, Jean Claude Schmitt, Romedio Schmitz Esser, Adrian van der
Velde and Maria Weber

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 want to open up the view towards our own perception of night, and it might well be that the bright nights of modern megacities of our age turn out only to be the electrified answers to the dreams of the pre-modern world.


Contact & registration: vitus huber@unige ch
Covid-19 : The conference is planned to take place in presence. Exact conditions and online access will be posted if necessary. In any case, please register by June 7 th via email to vitus.huber(at)unige.ch (contact & registration).


23 mars 2022