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The Annual Reeves Lecture by Jeffrey Hammond
The Annual Reeves Lecture
by Jeffrey Hammond, Professor of English and George B. and Willma Reeves Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts
"Good Night: In Praise of Darkness"
The night has always had a poor reputation in Western culture. Historical progress is routinely envisioned as daylight conquering darkness: the "Dark Ages," however we define them, always end with some sort of "Enlightenment." We've internalized this light/dark dichotomy to express human moods and faculties. Every cloud, we say, has a silver lining; there's light at the end of the tunnel; and when we grasp something, we "see the light." Although there is a lot to be said for light, the negative connotations of allegorical darkness have distorted our view of literal darkness: as a result, the actual, physical night is often ignored or maligned. In this meditation on the natural, historical and cultural significance of the nighttime, Professor Hammond argues that we could all use a little more darkness in our lives and in our world.