This book puts a finger on the nerve of culture by delving into the social life of touch, our most elusive yet most vital sense. From the tortures of the Inquisition to the corporeal comforts of modernity and from the tactile therapies of Asian medicine to the virtual tactility of cyberspace, The Book of Touch offers excursions into a sensory territory both foreign and familiar. How are masculine and feminine identities shaped by touch? What are the tactile experiences of the blind, or the autistic? How is touch developed differently across cultures? What are the boundaries of pain and pleasure? Is there a politics of touch? Bringing together classic writings and new work, this is an essential guide for anyone interested in the body, the senses and the experiential world.
Constance Classen is the author of Worlds of Sense: Exploring the Senses in History and Across Cultures, and The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender and the Aesthetic Imagination, among other works.