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Two grants to study Roman Darkness to AIAS Fellow Laura Nissin

Two foundations have awarded a research grant to Laura Nissin for her project “Roman Darkness.” The new projects build on her current AIAS research on sensory studies in ancient Rome and will focus on how darkness influenced the use of the domestic space and social relations within the space.

Photo of Laura Nissin, Assistant Professor, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark and University of Helsinki, Finland.
Photo: Pompeian wall painting

With a research grant of euro 34,000 from the Finnish Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, social historian Laura Nissin will examine ancient Roman perceptions of darkness and its various meanings, encompassing both its frightening aspects and the freedoms it may offer.

The research questions that this one-year research project will cover are how darkness is depicted in literature, how the fears of darkness were mitigated, how darkness influenced Roman thought, and how (negative) connotations of darkness were used in rhetoric.

Shedding Light on Darkness

According to the central premise of sensory studies into the past, perception is not solely a biological function; it is deeply culturally embedded and shaped by history. Exploring the cultural history of the senses and identifying cultural conceptions contributes to enhancing well-being even in the present day. Much of the past remains in the dark (sic!) if the meanings of darkness for past societies are not understood.

Laura Nissin will initiate the first project after finishing her fellowship at AIAS in January 2024, and she will particularly focus on the study of private dwellings and everyday life experiences, examining how darkness influenced the use of the domestic space and social relations within the space.

A second grant of euro 12,000 is awarded by the Olga ja Vilho Linnamon Säätiö Foundation, and in this 6-month research project, Laura Nissin will document domestic space in Herculaneum after dark.

More about the foundations

The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation: https://wihurinrahasto.fi/?lang=en
Olga and Vilho Linnamo Foundation: Olga ja Vilho Linnamo Foundation (linnamonsaatio.fi)



Laura Nissin, AIAS-COFUND MSCA Fellow

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, AIAS
Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B
DK-8000 Aarhus C