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The Deepest SenseA Cultural History of Touch$
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Constance Classen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252034930

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252034930.001.0001

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A Place by the Fire

A Place by the Fire

(p.1) Chapter One A Place by the Fire
The Deepest Sense

Constance Classen

University of Illinois Press

This chapter embarks on a tactile history of the Middle Ages. It considers the sensory effects of different areas in the medieval milieu: the social body, heat, city walls, work routines, and bodily comforts. Alongside the strength of the social body (the identification of the individual within the group), the chapter also explores the ways in which the common touch can uphold or destroy the medieval social order. Next, the chapter turns to the role of heat and warmth in intimate domestic spaces before moving on to the larger domain of city life as well as the rigors of farm work and agricultural cycles. Capping off this discussion of daily medieval life, the chapter delves into the rites of pleasure, where the hardness of work is contrasted with the softness of comfort.

Keywords:   Middle Ages, medieval social order, social body, heat, medieval cities, agriculture, medieval work, bodily comforts, common touch

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