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.

chapter 1|24 pages


Venturing into the dark: gloomy multiplicities
ByTim Edensor, Nick Dunn

part Part I|52 pages

Histories of the dark

chapter 2|11 pages

Affordances of the night

Work after dark in the ancient worldl
ByApril Nowell, Nancy Gonlin

chapter 3|12 pages

Shakespeare’s darkness

A stage and state of mind
ByElisabeth Bronfen

chapter 4|11 pages

In the night garden

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London 1800–1859
ByAlice Barnaby

chapter 5|16 pages

A brief history of artificial darkness and race

ByNoam M. Elcott

part Part II|47 pages

Cultural practices in the dark

chapter 6|12 pages


The curtain of darkness
ByAnkit Kumar

chapter 7|13 pages

Inuit’s perception of darkness

A singular feature
ByGuy Bordin

chapter 8|10 pages

Darkness in video game landscapes

Corporeal and representational entanglements
ByRob Shaw

chapter 9|10 pages

Dancing in the darkness to The Darkness

ByNina J. Morris

part Part III|51 pages

Sensing darkness

chapter 10|11 pages

Creatures of the night

Bodies, rhythms and Aurora Borealis
ByKatrín Anna Lund

chapter 11|12 pages

Contact zones

The Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park as creative milieu
ByNatalie Marr

chapter 12|11 pages

How does the dark sound?

ByDamien Masson

chapter 13|15 pages

Ghosts and Empties

BySimon Robinson

part Part IV|64 pages

Designing with darkness

chapter 14|13 pages

Going dark

The theatrical legacy of Battersea Art Centre’s Playing in the Dark season
ByMartin Welton

chapter 15|10 pages

On darkness, duration and possibility

ByShanti Sumartojo

chapter 16|14 pages

Darkness as canvas

ByLeni Schwendinger

chapter 17|13 pages

Designing with light and darkness

ByChris Lowe, Philip Rafael

chapter 18|12 pages


Revisiting the dark: diverse encounters and experiences
ByNick Dunn, Tim Edensor