When Did Space Turn Dark?
Vladimir Brljak (Durham University)
Thursday, 23 September 2021, 14:00–15:30 EDT
The universe is a vast sphere of everlasting daylight, and night, as experienced on earth, is merely a shadow cast by the planet with the sun behind it — 'the circling canopy,' as John Milton put it, 'Of night’s extended shade,' beyond which there are only 'happy climes that lie / Where day never shuts his eye.' Mounting evidence suggests that Milton was not an exception: that although not universal, belief in bright space was common in European premodernity, and that widespread acceptance of dark space is a much more recent phenomenon than we might think. When did space turn dark? The talk draws on textual and visual sources extending from Empedocles to the Space Shuttle to shed new light on this question and its cultural implications.
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