A Cultural History of the Senses In the Age of Empire: 1800-1920

Edited by Constance Classen


The nineteenth century was a time of new sensory experiences and modes of perception. The raucous mechanical intensity of the train and the factory vied for attention with the dazzling splendour of department stores and world fairs. Colonization and trade carried European sensations and sensibilities to the world and, in turn, flooded the West with exotic sights and savours. Urban stench became a matter of urgent public concern. Photography created a compelling alternate reality accessible only to the eye. At the turn of the twentieth century, the telephone and the radio isolated and extended the sense of hearing, and electrical networks spread their webs throughout cities. These novel experiences were reflected in contemporary art and literature, which strove for new ways to express modern sensibilities. A Cultural History of the Senses in the Age of Empire brings together a group of eminent historians to explore the aesthetic, cultural and political formation of the senses during a period of momentous change.

The Cultural History of the Senses set delves into the sensory foundations of Western civilization, taking a comprehensive period-by-period approach which provides a broad understanding of the life of the senses from antiquity to the modern day. Each of the volumes explores the following topics: The Social Life of the Senses; Urban Sensations; The Senses in the Marketplace; The Senses in Religion; The Senses in Philosophy and Science; Medicine and the Senses; The Senses in Literature; The Senses in Art; and Sensory Media. Superbly illustrated, this six-volume set is the most authoritative and comprehensive historical survey of the senses available.

Introduction: The Transformation of Perception
Constance Classen, McGill University, Canada

1 The Social Life of the Senses: The Assaults and Seductions of Modernity
Kate Flint, University of Southern California, USA

2 Urban Sensations: The Shifting Sensescape of the City
Alain Corbin, University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, France

3 The Senses in the Marketplace: Stimulation and Distraction, Gratification and Control
Erika D. Rappaport, University of California, USA

4 The Senses in Religion: Migrations of Sacred and Sensory Values
David Morgan, Duke University, USA

5 The Senses in Philosophy and Science: From the Senses to Sensations
Robert Jütte, University of Stuttgart, Germany

6 Medicine and the Senses: Seeing, Hearing and Smelling Disease
David S. Barnes, University of Pennsylvania, USA

7 The Senses in Literature: Industry and Empire
Nicholas Daly, University College Dublin, UK

8 The Senses in Art: From the Romantics to the Futurists
Constance Classen, McGill University, Canada

9 Sensory Media: The World Without and the World Within
Alison Griffiths, City University of New York, USA

This volume is available as part of the 6-volume Cultural History of the Senses set from Bloomsbury

Order information for the U.S. and Canada (35% discount off cover price until 31 December 2016)
Order information for the U.K. and rest of the world (35% discount off cover price until 31 December 2016)