June 3, 2005 A. Roger Ekirch To Discuss His Book on History of Nighttime on June 20
Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221
Historian A. Roger Ekirch will discuss his new book, “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past,” at noon on Monday, June 20, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.
A book signing will follow the presentation, which is part of the Center for the Book’s “Books & Beyond” author series at the Library. The Humanities and Social Sciences Division is cosponsoring the event. The program is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
Ekirch, a professor of history at Virginia Tech, conducted much of his research on the book at the Library of Congress. “At Day’s Close” examines the history of nocturnal activity in society in Western Europe, from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, before the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Ekirch describes how nighttime embodied a distinct culture, with many of its own customs and rituals.
Ekirch writes about night perils, official responses to nighttime such as curfews and watchmen, haunts of men and women at work and play, bedtime rituals, sleep disturbances and finally the demystification of darkness underway in cities and large towns by the mid-18th century.
The book has been widely praised by historians and literary critics. Jonathan Spence of Yale University called it a “richly researched and entertaining study” that is “perfect reading for insomniacs and stargazers alike.” Bernard Bailyn, professor emeritus, Harvard University, called it “a revelation.” In the opinion of George Steiner, the book is “a pioneering achievement of a rare order,” a work that “truly casts light on absolutely vital spheres of darkness.”
Ekirch’s previous books include “Bound for America: the Transportation of British Convicts to the Colonies, 1718-1775” (Oxford University Press, 1987) and “‘Poor Carolina:’ Politics and Society in Colonial North Carolina, 1729-1776” (University of North Carolina Press, 1981). A former Guggenheim Fellow, Ekirch lives in Roanoke, Va.
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The Humanities and Social Sciences Division provides reference service and collection development in the Main, Local History and Genealogy, and Microform reading rooms at the Library of Congress. It regularly sponsors programs in the arts, humanities and social sciences.