Departmental Papers (Architecture)

Document Type

Conference Paper

Date of this Version

November 1999


Presented at Mid-Atlantic Popular Culture Conference, 1999.


We still maintain open flames in our homes despite the development of cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient devices that can provide the same heat or light, often with greater comfort and control. My attention was drawn to this condition by Wolfgang Schivelbush's thoughtful book on the industrialization of light in the nineteenth century, which recounted the rejection of gas and then electric lighting in the living rooms of bourgeois and upper-class houses in Europe. A similar condition exists in America and, for example, we still light candles when we sit down to particular kinds of meals, whether those are ritual meals like thanksgiving and the Passover Seder, or intimate occasions, or even expensive restaurants.



Date Posted: 15 August 2008