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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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The Modern Touch

The Modern Touch

(p.147) Chapter Seven The Modern Touch
The Deepest Sense

Constance Classen

University of Illinois Press

This chapter chronicles the gradual decline of the sense of touch as humanity enters the modern age. The sense of touch was gradually displaced from its social centrality during the later Middle Ages, giving way to a more eye-minded culture of modernity. The chapter recounts the many developments which contributed to the changing relevance of the tactile sense. However, rather than fade entirely from the modern purview, tactile experiences simply persisted in a variety of niches: physical therapies, the culture of comfort, the philosophy of sensation, and so on. The chapter also rounds out the decline of tactile authority and the rise of modernity in two key anecdotes: Petrarch's 1336 climb up Mont Ventoux in Provence and the smashing of the sainte ampoule in Reims in 1793.

Keywords:   modernity, tactile sense, sight, tactile experiences, tactile authority, monarchy, Petrarch, sainte ampoule, modern society, Enlightenment period

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