A Cultural History of the Senses In the Modern Age: 1920-2000

Edited by David Howes


In the twentieth century, many aspects of life became ‘a matter of perception’ in the wake of the multiplication of media, stylistic experimentation, and the rise of multiculturalism. Life sped up as a result of new modes of transportation – automobiles and airplanes – and communication – telephones and personal computers – which emphasized the rapid movement of people and ideas. The proliferation of synthetic products and simulated experiences, from artificial flavours to video games, in turn, created heady virtual worlds of sensation. This progressive mediation and acceleration of sensation, along with the sensory and environmental pollution it often spawned, also sparked various countertrends, such as the ‘back to nature’ movement, the craft movement, slow food and alternative medicine. This volume shows how attending to the sensory dynamics of the modern age yields many fresh insights into the intertwined processes which gave the twentieth century its particular feel of technological prowess and gaudy artificiality.

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: “Make it New! – Reforming the Senses
David Howes, Concordia University, Canada

1 The Social Life of the Senses: Ordering and Disordering the Modern Sensorium
Tim Edensor, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

2 Urban Sensations: A Retrospective of Multisensory Drift
Alex Rhys-Taylor, Goldsmiths, UK

3 The Senses in the Marketplace: Commercial Aesthetics for a Suburban Age
Adam Mack, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA

4 The Senses in Religion: Pluralism, Technology and Change
Isaac A. Weiner, Ohio State University, USA

5 The Senses in Philosophy and Science: From Sensation to Computation
Mathew Nudds, University of Warwick, UK

6 Medicine and the Senses: Bodies, Technologies and the Empowerment of the Patient
Anamaria Iosif Ross, Independent scholar

7 The Senses in Literature: From the Modernist Shock of Sensation to Postcolonial
and Virtual Voices
Ralf Hertel, University of Hamburg, Germany

8 Art and the Senses: The Avant-Garde Challenge to the Visual Arts
Hannah Higgins, University of Illinois Chicago, USA

9 Sensory Media: Virtual Worlds and the Training of Perception
Michael Bull, University of Sussex, UK

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)