In Conversation with John Tresch

Virtual Speaker Series
Thursday, October 21, 2021
7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. EDT (UTC -4)

The master of the macabre and 19th-century scientific feuds? Edgar Allan Poe is well known for his haunting tales, but there is another side to the famous American writer.


Cover of John Tresch book on Edgar Allen Poe

Cover of The Reason for the Darkness of the Night by John Tresch.

Courtesy of the Rosenbach

In this joint virtual program with the Rosenbach, historian John Tresch will join us from England to discuss The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science, his new book about Poe’s obsession with scientific practice and discovery in 19th-century science. Get a fun behind-the-scenes peek at our collections as we share some relevant items and toast to the ways science influenced one of our favorite storytellers.

About the Speaker

John Tresch is a professor of history of art, science, and folk practice at the Warburg Institute at the University of London. He taught the history of science and technology in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania for over a decade. Tresch has held fellowships at the New York Public Library, Columbia University, the University of Chicago, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. He is also the author of The Romantic Machine: Utopian Science and Technology after Napoleon.

About the Book

The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science is an innovative biography highlighting Poe’s fascination and feuds with science.

Decade after decade, Poe remains one of the most popular American writers. He is beloved around the world for his pioneering detective fiction, tales of horror, and haunting, atmospheric verse. But what if there was another side to the man who wrote The Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher?  

In The Reason for the Darkness of the Night, John Tresch offers a bold new biography of a writer whose short, tortured life continues to fascinate. Shining a spotlight on an era when the lines separating entertainment, speculation, and scientific inquiry were blurred, Tresch reveals Poe’s obsession with science and a lifelong ambition to advance and question human knowledge.

Join the Conversation

A series of informal, intimate talks given by literary and cultural luminaries, In Conversation with the Rosenbach delves into fascinating histories, intellectual curiosities, and inspiring ideas. Each program offers audience members a chance to join the conversation after the talk and share their own thoughts and questions.