Haptic Modernism: Touch and the Tactile in Modernist Writing (2013)

Author(s): Garrington A

    Abstract: While studies of modernist cultural practice have long been dominated by a focus on the visual sense, I suggest that the work of avant-garde modernist writers including D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson might be better understood as peculiarly concerned with the haptic - the reaching and touching of the human skin, combined with the body's sense of its orientation (proprioception) and movement (kinaesthesis). Looking at conceptualisations of the haptic from nineteenth century physiology and art history to present day film theory, sociology, human geography and computer science, I identify a flowering of interest in this broadly conceived effort of touch within the modernist period. In the early twentieth century, when human bodily experience is changing rapidly as a result of technological innovations (including, crucially, cinema and mechanised transport), it is perhaps no surprise that the most innovative writers of the day allowed hapticity to transform their literary texts.

      • Number of Pages: 208
      • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
      • Publication type: Authored book
      • Bibliographic status: Published