Academic programme

All panel sessions will take place on 15-16 January in the seminar rooms at the conference hotel, Funken Lodge.

Day 1:


Registration and opening (Svalbardsal B)

9.00 – 10.30

Panel 1: Darkness, mythology and folk literature (Svalbardsal A)

Chair: Ciaran McDonough

  1. Sofie Vanherpen (Ghent University): Between darkness and light – The struggle between the evil Gullbrá and the good Auður in the Icelandic folktale “Gullbrá og Skeggi í Hvammi”
  2. Minjie Su (University of Oxford): Dark Landscape, Dark Mindscape: How Darkness May Shed Lights on the Monstrous Mind in Old Norse-Icelandic Literature
  3. Laura Nissin (University of Helsinki/University of Kent): Night is dark and full of terrors – Roman perceptions of the nocturnal threats
  4. Debbie Felton (University of Massachusetts Amherst): “Darkness” v. “Night” in Early Greek Myth

Panel 2: Literary darkness: romantic, gothic, contemporary (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: Aisling Smith

  1. Susanna Lahtinen (University of Turku): “Enigmatic beauty and sinister obscurity” ─ Experiences of the nocturnal darkness by Romantic era travellers
  2. Debbie Lee (Washington State University): The Nocturnal Power of Slime in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  3. Elana Gomel (Tel-Aviv University): Darkness Visible: The Cultural Poetics of Absence as Presence
  4. Chris Ingraham (University of Utah/University of Bergen): Toward a Rhetoric of the Dark


Panel 3: Literary darkness: romantic, gothic, contemporary II (Svalbardsal A)

Chair: Debbie Felton

  1. Stephen Matterson (Trinity College Dublin): Re-stating the Romantic Night: from Agency to Negation
  2. Sarah Canfield (Shenandoah University): Wonder, Terror, and All Things Strange: Polar Night in Speculative Fiction
  3. Amy Bride (University of Manchester): Monstrous Darkness: Race and the Fluctuation of Perpetration/Victimhood in American Gothic Fiction
  4. Sarah Cullen (Trinity College Dublin): “Let him be left to feel his way in the dark”: The Nocturnal Gothic in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Panel 4: Spatial figurations and dark landscapes (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: Anna Souhami

  1. Simon Sorgenfrei (Södertörn University): Islam in Incessant Darkness
  2. Sarah Pickman and Tess Lanzarotta (Yale University): Darkness Falls: Arctic Darkness and The Meanings of Normative Time
  3. Tania Blackwell (University of Melbourne): Trauma-scapes and the Aesthetics of Darkness – Tasmanian Landscapes
  4. Aisling Smith (Monash University): Pale Neon: Representations of Dark and Light in David Foster Wallace’s Writing


Lunch – independently, transport to town provided.


Panel 5: Dark technoscapes, artificial intelligence and digital/virtual space (Svalbardsal A)

Chair: Chris Ingraham

  1. James Miller (Smith College): The Universe’s Dark End State Makes Artificial Intelligence Dangerous
  2. Robin Zebrowski (Beloit College): Bodies in Darkness: The Role of Presence and Anxiety in Artificial Intelligence
  3. Ro Spankie (University of Westminster): Shadow Space
  4. Jeff Combos (Independent researcher): Shadowplay: How Darkness Shapes Player Experience in Video Games

Panel 6: Arctic darkness in literature and the arts (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: Claire Downey

  1. Martin Siefkes (Technische Universität Chemnitz): A Woman in the Polar Museum: Representations of Christiane Ritter’s Svalbard experience
  2. Kate Maxwell (UiT – the Arctic University of Norway): Music in the Dark: Soundscapes in Christiane Ritter’s A Woman in the Polar Night
  3. K. P. C. Hudson (Bond University): Illuminating Antarctic Architectural Interventions: adaptations of Halley VI station to mitigate natural daylighting challenges


Panel 7: Night sky and light pollution  (Svalbardsal A)

Chair: Luisa Del Giudice

  1. Sara B. Pritchard (Cornell University): Constructing Darkness in Light-Pollution Science
  2. Frederik Thordal Pedersen, Sigrid Wibe Nielsen (Århus University): All the Light We Do Not See
  3. Luciano Massetti, Francesco Sabatini (Institute of Biometeorology of the National Research Council of Italy), Elena Maggi (Department of Biology of the University of Pisa), Andrea Giacomelli ( and Antonio Raschi (Institute of Biometeorology of the National Research Council of Italy): Dark sky nights in Tuscany, a challenge and an opportunity
  4. Eric Masson, Jean-Baptiste Litot, Olivier Blanpain (University of Lille): The shadows of light and the invisibility: a geospatial view point from space (booked flights – not registered?)

Panel 8: Religion, mythology and the sacred (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: Elizabeth Boyle

  1. Anna Novotny (Texas Tech University): Journey through Darkness: Ancient Maya Mortuary Practices of West-Central Belize
  2. Adam Świeżyński (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw): “Darkness” as “impossibility” in Genesis 1:1-2
  3. Kathy Cooke (University of South Alabama): “Wrestling with God “Until the Day Dawned”: Darkness, Conversion, and Sex in 19th Century American Revivals
  4. Loren Goodman (Yonsei University/Underwood International College): The Other Side of Light: Darkness in Korean Birth Dreams


Panel 9: Dark ecologies: wilderness and natural landscapes (Svalbardsal A)

Chair: Debbie Lee

  1. Michaela Thompson (Harvard University): Sharks in the Dark: Examining the Depths of Fear and Fascination
  2. Catherine Greenhalgh (Independent Researcher): Under Cover of Darkness: Nocturnal Wildlife Cinematography
  3. Wendy Sloan (University of South Florida/ Independent Researcher): Synonymous Metaphors of Nature and Darkness: Understanding the Western Narrative of Nature as Other
  4. Janike Kampevold Larsen (The Oslo School of Architecture and Design): The Dark Sublime

Panel 10: Music and sound (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: Kate Maxwell

  1. Milos Zatkalik (University of Arts in Belgrade, Faculty of Music): Music in/as the Dark Rooms of Our Souls
  2. Simone Dennis (Australian National University): Lighting up: The darkness of smoking sounds
  3. Gaia Valeria Varon (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan): “Instruments of darkness”: The sound of darkness in Verdi’s operas
  4. Roberto Ignacio Díaz (University of Southern California): After Darkness: Caliban and the English Tenor



Panel 11: Technology, memory and material culture (Svalbardsal A)

Chair: Anne Karhio

  1. Alice Barnaby (Swansea University): The Dimmer Switch and the Domestication of Darkness
  2. Luisa Del Giudice (Independent researcher): Light/Life Cycles and Sundials as Memento Mori
  3. Annie Gilfillan (University of the Highland and Islands): Out of a nuclear darkness: atomic archives and folk memory
  4. Vanessa Brown (Nottingham Trent University): It’s Cooler in the Shade: the darkness of dark glasses

Panel 12: Visual arts: painting and photography (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: Wood Roberdeau

  1. Mercedes Aguirre Castro (University Complutense of Madrid): How to make darkness visible: An artistic challenge
  2. Pamila Gupta (WiSER/Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research): Photographs from a Zanzibari Dark Room
  3. Harri Laakso (Aalto University): Photography spoken against the light
  4. Catie Newell (University of Michigan): Chasing Darkness


Panel 13: Medieval culture, literature and aesthetics (Svalbardsal A)

Chair: Ciaran McDonough

  1. Daniel Redding-Brielmaier (University of Toronto): Lyric Darkness: a Strategy of Self-Construction in Medieval North Atlantic Verse
  2. Elizabeth Boyle (Maynooth University): Dark Speech and Primordial Chaos: Metaphor and Vernacular Philosophy in Early Medieval Ireland
  3. Monika C. Otter (Dartmouth College, USA): Is Darkness a Thing? Darkness, Nothingness, and Creation in Medieval Thought
  4. Lisa Weston (California State University, Fresno): Sounding Darkness in the Old English Seafarer

Panel 14: Literature, culture and philosophy (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: Susanna Lahtinen

  1. Andrei Rogatchevski (UiT – the Arctic University of Norway): Leonid Andreyev’s Dark (1907): Visualising the Unconscious
  2. Daniel Baker (Independent researcher): Staring into Black: The Fantastic as Perceptual Coding
  3. Willem Anker (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa): “I wish I was still alive here to greet you”: Dark ecology in Jeff VanderMeer’s The Strange Bird (2017)
  4. Catherine Du Toit (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa): Return to an Age of Darkness?


Lunch – provided at Funken Lodge.


Panel 15: Contemporary fiction (Svalbardsal A) 

Chair: Sarah Canfield

  1. John Dyce (Scottish United Reformed & Congregational College): As Dark as Snow: An investigation of how snow serves the darkness motif in Nordic Noir crime fiction
  2. Anna-Leena Toivanen (University of Liège): The Poetics of Zombified Mobilities: Darkness and Death in Literary Representations of African Clandestine Travel
  3. Shira Stav (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev): Reading Darkness in Elena Ferrante’s Work
  4. Daniel Fernandes Batista de Oliveira and Gustavo Lopes de Souza (University of Brasília): A light shines through the dark: ambience and salvation in Cyberpunk fiction

Panel 16: Art, performance and creative practice (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: K. P. C. Hudson

  1. Ashlie Latiolais (University of Louisiana – Lafayette): UNfolded: Navigating Darkness in Performance
  2. Lindsay Webb (University of New South Wales); Elena Knox (Waseda University); Dawn-Joy Leong (Independent Researcher) and Katsumi Watanabe (Waseda University): Snoösphere: sensory modulation in a synthesized night garden
  3. Sara Davidmann (University of the Arts London), Catherine Faulds (Independent researcher): Dark Works
  4. Sara Petrucci (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland): Liquid Darkness


Panel 17: Darkness in context: social and cultural practice (Svalbardsal A)

Chair: Vanessa Brown

  1. Claire Downey (University of Limerick): Shades of darkness and discontinuity at the heart of the City of Lights
  2. Anna Souhami (University of Edinburgh): Knowing through darkness: making sense of police work in the remote Northern Islands of Scotland
  3. John FitzGerald (University College Cork): Darklight — the Making of a Handmade Book About the Night by John FitzGerald (poet), Dorothy Cross (artist), and Jamie Murphy (publisher)
  4. Harri Laakso, Juuso Tervo, Kevin Tavin (Aalto University): On Dark Territories of Transdisciplinarity: Arts-Based Education as (Un)Learning

Panel 18: Film aesthetics and cinema (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: Pamila Gupta

  1. Ruth Booth (University of Glasgow): “That Place Was Trying to Show Me Something”: Womanspace, Balance, and the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  2. Wood Roberdeau (Goldsmiths, University of London): Eco-aesthetic Opacity and the Moving Image
  3. João Rosmaninho (University of Minho-School of Architecture), Eduardo Brito (University of Porto-Faculty of Fine Arts): Shadow and false brightness on Michelangelo Antonioni’s Cinema
  4. Allison Whitney (Texas Tech University): Together in the Dark: The Drive-In Cinema and the Public Night


Panel 19: Sensory and embodied experience: literal and figurative darkness (Svalbardsal A)

Chair: Simone Dennis

  1. Kevin Hunt (Nottingham Trent University): The Art of Seeing Without Light: Getting a Sense of Blind Experiences through Documentary Film
  2. Christopher Forth (University of Kansas): Devouring darkness: dangerous food, disgusting bodies
  3. Ellen Jeffrey (Lancaster University): Making Night Kin: Encountering Darkness through a Movement-Based Practice
  4. Ana Svetel (University of Ljubljana): Social Dimensions of Icelandic Landscape: Light and Dark

Panel 20: Architecture and design (Svalbardsal B)

Chair: Janike Kampevold Larsen

  1. Emily Baker (University of Arkansas): Darkness by Design: An Exercise of Choice
  2. Zachary Colbert (Carleton University): Non-Visual Architecture
  3. Amanda Steggell (Oslo National Academy of the Arts), Andrew Morrison (Oslo School of Architecture and Design), Anthony Rowe (Independent researcher), Brynjar Bandlien (Oslo National Academy of the Arts), Hans Jørgen Wallin Weihe (Innland Norway University of the Applied Sciences): Discovering a New Terella for Dark Times: Aurora Imaginaris
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