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Archaeologies of Touch
Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing
David Parisi
University of Minnesota Press, 2018

A material history of haptics technology that raises new questions about the relationship between touch and media

Since the rise of radio and television, we have lived in an era defined increasingly by the electronic circulation of images and sounds. But the flood of new computing technologies known as haptic interfaces—which use electricity, vibration, and force feedback to stimulate the sense of touch—offering an alternative way of mediating and experiencing reality. 

In Archaeologies of Touch, David Parisi offers the first full history of these increasingly vital technologies, showing how the efforts of scientists and engineers over the past three hundred years have gradually remade and redefined our sense of touch. Through lively analyses of electrical machines, videogames, sex toys, sensory substitution systems, robotics, and human–computer interfaces, Parisi shows how the materiality of touch technologies has been shaped by attempts to transform humans into more efficient processors of information. 

With haptics becoming ever more central to emerging virtual-reality platforms (immersive bodysuits loaded with touch-stimulating actuators), wearable computers (haptic messaging systems like the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine), and smartphones (vibrations that emulate the feel of buttons and onscreen objects), Archaeologies of Touch offers a timely and provocative engagement with the long history of touch technology that helps us confront and question the power relations underpinning the project of giving touch its own set of technical media.


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Boundaries of Touch
Parenting and Adult-Child Intimacy
Jean O'Malley Halley
University of Illinois Press, 2006
A history of the shifting and conflicting ideas about when, where, and how we should touch our children

Discussing issues of parent-child contact ranging from breastfeeding to sexual abuse, Jean O'Malley Halley traces the evolution of mainstream ideas about touching between adults and children over the course of the twentieth century in the United States. Debates over when a child should be weaned and whether to allow a child to sleep in the parent's bed reveal deep differences in conceptions of appropriate adult-child contact.

Boundaries of Touch shows how arguments about adult-child touch have been politicized, simplified, and bifurcated into "naturalist" and "behaviorist" viewpoints, thereby sharpening certain binary constructions such as mind/body and male/female. Halley discusses the gendering of ideas about touch that were advanced by influential social scientists and parenting experts including Benjamin Spock, Alfred C. Kinsey, and Luther Emmett Holt. She also explores how touch ideology fared within and against the post-World War II feminist movements, especially with respect to issues of breastfeeding and sleeping with a child versus using a crib.

In addition to contemporary periodicals and self-help books on child rearing, Halley uses information gathered from interviews she conducted with mothers ranging in age from twenty-eight to seventy-three. Throughout, she reveals how the parent-child relationship, far from being a private or benign subject, continues as a highly contested, politicized affair of keen public interest.


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The Deepest Sense
A Cultural History of Touch
Constance Victoria Classen
University of Illinois Press, 2012
From the softest caress to the harshest blow, touch lies at the heart of our experience of the world. Now, for the first time, this deepest of senses is the subject of an extensive historical exploration. The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch fleshes out our understanding of the past with explorations of lived experiences of embodiment from the middle ages to modernity. This intimate and sensuous approach to history makes it possible to foreground the tactile foundations of Western culture--the ways in which feelings shaped society.
Constance Classen explores a variety of tactile realms including the feel of the medieval city; the tactile appeal of relics; the social histories of pain, pleasure, and affection; the bonds of touch between humans and animals; the strenuous excitement of sports such as wrestling and jousting; and the sensuous attractions of consumer culture. She delves into a range of vital issues, from the uses--and prohibitions--of touch in social interaction to the disciplining of the body by the modern state, from the changing feel of the urban landscape to the technologization of touch in modernity.
Through poignant descriptions of the healing power of a medieval king's hand or the grueling conditions of a nineteenth-century prison, we find that history, far from being a dry and lifeless subject, touches us to the quick.

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Erotic Morality
The Role of Touch in Moral Agency
Linda Holler
Rutgers University Press, 2002
Erotic Morality examines the role of the senses and the emotions, especially touch, in moral reflection and agency. Moving from organic disorders such as autism to culturally induced feeling disorders found in dualistic philosophy, pornography, and some forms of sadomasochism, Linda Holler argues that reclaiming the sentient awareness necessary to our physical and moral well-being demands healing the places where we have become numb or hypersensitive to touch. By considering ascetic practices designed to produce what Buddhists call mindfulness, Holler presents alternatives to destructive patterns of actions dictated by desensitivity and habitual conditioning.

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The Forgotten Sense
Meditations on Touch
Pablo Maurette
University of Chicago Press, 2018
Of all the senses, touch is the most ineffable—and the most neglected in Western culture, all but ignored by philosophers and artists over millennia. Yet it is also the sense that links us most intimately to the world around us, from our mother’s caress when we’re born to the gentle lowering of our eyelids after death.

The Forgotten Sense gives touch its due, addressing it in multifarious ways through a series of six essays. Literary in feel, ambitious in conception, admirable in their range of reference and insight, these meditations address questions fundamental to the understanding of touch: What do we mean when we say that an artwork touches us? How does language affect our understanding of touch? Is the skin the deepest part of the human body? Can we philosophize about a kiss? To aid him in answering these questions, Pablo Maurette recruits an impressive roster of cultural figures from throughout history: Homer, Lucretius, Chrétien de Troyes, Melville, Sir Thomas Browne, Knausgaard, Michel Henry and many others help him unfurl the underestimated importance of the sense of touch and tactile experience.

​The resulting book is essay writing at its best—exploratory, surprising, dazzling, a reading experience like no other. You will come away from it with a new appreciation of touch, and a new way of understanding our interactions with the world around us.

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High Tech, High Touch
Library Customer Service through Technology
Lynn Hawkins
American Library Association, 2003

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Home Bodies
Tactile Experience in Domestic Space
James Krasner
The Ohio State University Press, 2010
How do acts of caring for the sick or grieving for the dead change the way we move through our living rooms and bedrooms? Why do elderly homeowners struggle to remain in messy, junk-filled houses? Why are we so attached to our pets, even when they damage and soil our living spaces? In Home Bodies: Tactile Experience in Domestic Space, James Krasner offers an interdisciplinary, humanistic investigation of the sense of touch in our experience of domestic space and identity. Accessing the work of gerontologists, neurologists, veterinarians, psychologists, social geographers, and tactual perception theorists to lay the groundwork for his experiential claims, he also ranges broadly through literary and cultural criticism dealing with the body, habit, and material culture.
By demonstrating crucial links between domestic experience and tactile perception, Home Bodies investigates questions of identity, space, and the body. Krasner analyzes representations of tactile experience from a range of canonical literary works and authors, including the Bible, Sophocles, Marilynne Robinson, Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, and Sylvia Plath, as well as a series of popular contemporary texts. This work will contribute to discussions of embodiment, space, and domesticity by literary and cultural critics, scholars in the medical humanities, and interdisciplinary thinkers from multiple fields.

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Horn, or The Counterside of Media
Henning Schmidgen
Duke University Press, 2022
We regularly touch and handle media devices. At the same time, media devices such as body scanners, car seat pressure sensors, and smart phones scan and touch us. In Horn, Henning Schmidgen reflects on the bidirectional nature of touch and the ways in which surfaces constitute sites of mediation between interior and exterior. Schmidgen uses the concept of "horn"—whether manifested as a rhinoceros horn or a musical instrument—to stand for both natural substances and artificial objects as spaces of tactility. He enters into creative dialogue with artists, scientists, and philosophers, ranging from Salvador Dalí, William Kentridge, and Rebecca Horn to Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Marshall McLuhan, who plumb the complex interplay between tactility and technological and biological surfaces. Whether analyzing how Dalí conceived of images as tactile entities during his “rhinoceros phase” or examining the problem of tactility in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Schmidgen reconfigures understandings of the dynamic phenomena of touch in media.

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The Impact of Touch in Dance Movement Psychotherapy
A Body–Mind Centering Approach
Katy Dymoke
Intellect Books, 2021
A presentation of clinical outcomes that demonstrate significant new insights into the value of touch to the therapeutic process.

In this book, dance movement psychotherapist Katy Dymoke presents an in-depth case study of work with a client with a profound learning disability. The research stems from a postdoctoral thesis sponsored by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, where Dymoke was employed at the time of the clinical outcomes relayed in this work. The volume includes transcripts of the session content; descriptions of how incidents of touch were initiated and undertaken within the process; subsequent categorizations of the incidents of touch as self-directed, passive, or reciprocal; and commentary and discussion of the therapeutic process. As we see, the incidents of touch contribute to the client’s process of mental distress, trauma, lack of capacity, and more. Finally, Dymoke includes sections on the ethical issues of this work in the NHS, on doing research with such a client group, and on the theoretical models that emerged.

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Intimate Subjects
Touch and Tangibility in Britain's Cerebral Age
Simeon Koole
University of Chicago Press, 2024
An insightful history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain told through a single sense: touch.
When, where, and who gets to touch and be touched, and who decides? What do we learn through touch? How does touch bring us closer together or push us apart? These are urgent contemporary questions, but they have their origins in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain, when new urban encounters compelled intense discussion of what touch was, and why it mattered. In this vividly written book, Simeon Koole excavates the history of these concerns and reveals how they continue to shape ideas about “touch” in the present.
Intimate Subjects takes us to the bustling railway stations, shady massage parlors, all-night coffee stalls, and other shared spaces where passengers, customers, vagrants, and others came into contact, leading to new understandings of touch. We travel in crammed subway cars, where strangers negotiated the boundaries of personal space. We visit tea shops where waitresses made difficult choices about autonomy and consent. We enter classrooms in which teachers wondered whether blind children could truly grasp the world and labs in which neurologists experimented on themselves and others to unlock the secrets of touch. We tiptoe through London’s ink-black fogs, in which disoriented travelers became newly conscious of their bodies and feared being accosted by criminals. Across myriad forgotten encounters such as these, Koole shows, touch remade what it meant to be embodied—as well as the meanings of disability, personal boundaries, and scientific knowledge.
With imagination and verve, Intimate Subjects offers a new way of theorizing the body and the senses, as well as a new way of thinking about embodiment and vulnerability today.

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Moving Consciously
Somatic Transformations through Dance, Yoga, and Touch
Edited by Sondra Fraleigh
University of Illinois Press, 2015
The popularity of yoga and Zen meditation has heightened awareness of somatic practices. Individuals develop the conscious embodiment central to somatics work via movement and dance, or through touch from a skilled teacher or therapist often called a somatic bodyworker. Methods of touch and movement foster generative processes of consciousness in order to create a fluid interconnection between sensation, thought, movement, and expression. In Moving Consciously , Sondra Fraleigh gathers essays that probe ideas surrounding embodied knowledge and the conscious embodiment of movement and dance. Using a variety of perspectives on movement and dance somatics, Fraleigh and other contributors draw on scholarship and personal practice to participate in a multifaceted investigation of a thriving worldwide phenomenon. Their goal: to present the mental and physical health benefits of experiencing one's inner world through sensory awareness and movement integration. A stimulating addition to a burgeoning field, Moving Consciously incorporates concepts from East and West into a timely look at life-changing, intertwined practices that involve dance, movement, performance studies, and education. Contributors: Richard Biehl, Robert Bingham, Hillel Braude, Alison East, Sondra Fraleigh, Kelly Ferris Lester, Karin Rugman, Catherine Schaeffer, Jeanne Schul, and Ruth Way.

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Politics of Touch
Sense, Movement, Sovereignty
Erin Manning
University of Minnesota Press, 2006
Political philosophy has long been bound by traditional thinking about the body and the senses. Through an engagement with the state-centered vocabulary of this discipline, Politics of Touch explores the ways in which sensing bodies continually run up against existing political structures. In this groundbreaking work, Erin Manning reconsiders how new politics can arise that challenge the national body politic.

In Politics of Touch, Manning develops a new way to conceive the role of the senses, and of touch in particular. Exploring concepts of violence, gender, sexuality, security, democracy, and identity, she traces the ways in which touch informs and reforms the body. Specifically considering tango-a tactile, rhythmic, and improvisational dance- she foregrounds movement as the sensing body's intervention into the political. With a fresh vision and an original theoretical basis, Manning shows the ontogenetic potential of the body, and in doing so, redefines our understanding of the sense of touch in philosophical and political terms.  

Erin Manning is assistant professor of fine arts at Concordia University and the author of Ephemeral Territories (Minnesota, 2003).

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Precarious Intimacies
The Politics of Touch in Contemporary Western European Cinema
Maria Stehle and Beverly Weber
Northwestern University Press, 2020
Drawing on and responding to the writings of theorists such as Judith Butler, Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant, and Lisa Lowe, this book proposes the notion of “precarious intimacies” to navigate a dilemma: how to recognize, affirm, and value love, touch, and care while challenging the racialized and gendered politics in which they are embedded.
Twenty-first-century Europe is undergoing dramatic political and economic transformations that produce new forms of transnational contact as well as new regimes of exclusion and economic precarity. These political and economic shifts both circumscribe and enable new possibilities for intimacy. Many European films of the last two decades depict experiences of political and economic vulnerability in narratives of precarious intimacies. In these films, stories of intimacy, sex, love, and friendship are embedded in violence and exclusion, but, as Maria Stehle and Beverly Weber show, the politics of touch and connection also offers avenues to theorize forms of attention and affection that challenge exclusive notions of race, citizenship, and belonging.
Precarious Intimacies examines the aesthetic strategies that respond to this tension and proposes a politics of interpretation that identifies the potential and possibility of intimacy.

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Public Enemies, Public Heroes
Screening the Gangster from Little Caesar to Touch of Evil
Jonathan Munby
University of Chicago Press, 1999
In this study of Hollywood gangster films, Jonathan Munby examines their controversial content and how it was subjected to continual moral and political censure.

Beginning in the early 1930s, these films told compelling stories about ethnic urban lower-class desires to "make it" in an America dominated by Anglo-Saxon Protestant ideals and devastated by the Great Depression. By the late 1940s, however, their focus shifted to the problems of a culture maladjusting to a new peacetime sociopolitical order governed by corporate capitalism. The gangster no longer challenged the establishment; the issue was not "making it," but simply "making do."

Combining film analysis with archival material from the Production Code Administration (Hollywood's self-censoring authority), Munby shows how the industry circumvented censure, and how its altered gangsters (influenced by European filmmakers) fueled the infamous inquisitions of Hollywood in the postwar '40s and '50s by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Ultimately, this provocative study suggests that we rethink our ideas about crime and violence in depictions of Americans fighting against the status quo.

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"The Touch of Civilization"
Comparing American and Russian Internal Colonization
Steven Sabol
University Press of Colorado, 2017
The Touch of Civilization is a comparative history of the United States and Russia during their efforts to colonize and assimilate two indigenous groups of people within their national borders: the Sioux of the Great Plains and the Kazakhs of the Eurasian Steppe. In the revealing juxtaposition of these two cases author Steven Sabol elucidates previously unexplored connections between the state building and colonizing projects these powers pursued in the nineteenth century.
This critical examination of internal colonization—a form of contiguous continental expansion, imperialism, and colonialism that incorporated indigenous lands and peoples—draws a corollary between the westward-moving American pioneer and the eastward-moving Russian peasant. Sabol examines how and why perceptions of the Sioux and Kazakhs as ostensibly uncivilized peoples and the Northern Plains and the Kazakh Steppe as “uninhabited” regions that ought to be settled reinforced American and Russian government sedentarization policies and land allotment programs. In addition, he illustrates how both countries encountered problems and conflicts with local populations while pursuing their national missions of colonization, comparing the various forms of Sioux and Kazakh martial, political, social, and cultural resistance evident throughout the nineteenth century.
Presenting a nuanced, in-depth history and contextualizing US and Russian colonialism in a global framework, The Touch of Civilization will be of significant value to students and scholars of Russian history, American and Native American history, and the history of colonization.

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Touch of Evil
Orson Welles, Director
Edited by Terry Comito
Rutgers University Press, 1991
Welles is by consensus one of the most talented directors who ever worked in Hollywood, and this flamboyant film - a 1958 exploration of the thriller form - is one of his greatest achievements. 

Comito's introduction considers the film's relation to the tradition of film noir and demonstrates how Welles's mastery of cinematic language transforms the materials of a routine thriller into a work that is at once a sardonic examination of the dark side of sexuality, an elegiac rumination on the loss of innocence, and a disquieting assault on the viewer's own moral and ascetic certainties. 

Other contextual materials in the book include a biographical sketch of Welles; an important interview with Welles by Andre Bazin, Charles Bitsch, and Jean Domarchi, available here for the first time in English; an interview with Charlton Heston on the making of the film; representative reviews; critical essays by William Johnson, Jean Collett (translated especially for this book), Stephen Heath; an analysis of the relation of the complete film to Welles's recently discovered shooting script; and filmography and bibliography. The continuity script collates the two available versions of Touch of Evil and provides an invaluable, shot-by-shot guide through the visual and audio complexities of Welles's masterpiece. 

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A Touch of Innocence
A Memoir of Childhood
Katherine Dunham
University of Chicago Press, 1994
An internationally known dancer, choreographer, and gifted anthropologist, Katherine Dunham was born to a black American tailor and a well-to-do French Canadian woman twenty years his senior. This book is Dunham's story of the chaos and conflict that entered her childhood after her mother's early death.

In stark prose, she tells of growing up in both black and white households and of the divisions of race and class in Chicago that become the harsh realities of her young life. A riveting narrative of one girl's struggle to transcend the painful confusions of a family and culture in turmoil, Dunham's story is full of the clarity, candor, and intelligence that lifted her above her troubled beginnings.

"A Touch of Innocence is an absorbing family chronicle written with a gift for physical detail sometimes too real for comfort. In quietly graphic prose the growing girl, the slightly older brother, the ambitious father and the kind stepmother are pictured in such human terms that when their lives get tied into harder and harder knots beyond their undoing, one can only continue to read helplessly as doom closes in upon the household."—Langston Hughes, New York Herald Tribune

"A Touch of Innocence is one of the most extraordinary life stories I have ever read . . . . The content of this book is so heartbreaking that only the strongest artistic skills can keep it from leaking out into sobbing self-pity, but Katherine Dunham's art contains it, understands it and refuses to be overwhelmed by its terrors."—Elizabeth Janeway, New York Times

"The first eighteen years of the famous dancer and choreographer's life are brought vividly to the reader in this first volume of her autobiography. She writes of what it is like to be a special, gifted young woman growing up in a racially mixed family in the American Middle West. A beautiful, touching and sometimes discomforting book."—Publishers Weekly

"As writing it is honest, searing, graphic and touching, giving us a rather heartbreaking early view of the young American Negro who was later to make a name for herself as a dancer and choreographer."—Arthur Todd, Saturday Review

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Sensuous Theory And Multisensory Media
Laura U. Marks
University of Minnesota Press, 2002

Proposes a revolutionary approach to the interpretation of art, film, and the digital.

In Touch, Laura U. Marks develops a critical approach more tactile than visual, an intensely physical and sensuous engagement with works of media art that enriches our understanding and experience of these works and of art itself.

These critical, theoretical, and personal essays serve as a guide to developments in nonmainstream media art during the past ten years—sexual representation debates, documentary ethics, the shift from analog to digital media, a new social obsession with smell. Marks takes up well-known artists like experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs and mysterious animators the Brothers Quay, and introduces groundbreaking, lesser-known film, video, and digital artists. From this emerges a materialist theory—an embodied, erotic relationship to art and to the world. Marks’s approach leads to an appreciation of the works’ mortal bodies: film’s volatile emulsion, video’s fragile magnetic base, crash-prone Net art; it also offers a productive alternative to the popular understanding of digital media as "virtual" and immaterial. Weaving a continuous fabric from philosophy, fiction, science, dreams, and intimate experience, Touch opens a new world of art media to readers.

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The Zoom
Drama at the Touch of a Lever
Hall, Nick
Rutgers University Press, 2018
From the queasy zooms in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo to the avant-garde mystery of Michael Snow’s Wavelength, from the excitement of televised baseball to the drama of the political convention, the zoom shot is instantly recognizable and highly controversial. In The Zoom, Nick Hall traces the century-spanning history of the zoom lens in American film and television. From late 1920s silent features to the psychedelic experiments of the 1960s and beyond, the book describes how inventors battled to provide film and television studios with practical zoom lenses, and how cinematographers clashed over the right ways to use the new zooms. Hall demonstrates how the zoom brought life and energy to cinema decades before the zoom boom of the 1970s and reveals how the zoom continues to play a vital and often overlooked role in the production of contemporary film and television.  

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