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Haptic Modernism

Touch and the Tactile in Modernist Writing

Abbie Garrington

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The first substantial account of the representation of the haptic in literature of the modernist period

Haptic Modernism focuses on areas of sensory experience which were being re-conceptualised in response to technological and scientific innovations in the modernist years: touch, kinaesthesis, proprioception and the vestibular sense. The work of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, Dorothy Richardson and D. H. Lawrence is considered in detail alongside non-canonical fictions and scientific, philosophical and journalistic accounts of bodily experiences in the realm of touch and the tactile.

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1. Haptic Modernism
Modernist Manicures
Histories of the Haptic
Going to the Feelies
Excursus: Pygmalion
2. James Joyce’s Epidermic Adventures
Masturbatory Modernism
Smashed to Atoms
The Blind Stripling
3. Virginia Woolf, Hapticity, and the Human Hand
Palm Reading
Motorcar Kinaesthetics
Carpe Diem
4. Dorothy Richardson and the Haptic Reader
The Licking Eye
Scenes of Reading
Tactile Pilgrimages
5. D. H. Lawrence: Blind Touch in a Visual Culture
The ‘Unimpeachable Kodak’
St Mawr’s Dark Eye
Back to the Blind
6. Horrible Haptics
A Five-Fingered Beast
Pianists and Surgeons
Appendix: Tactile Terminologies

About the Author

Abbie Garrington is Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Durham University.


Haptic Modernism is a compelling and adroitly written first monograph.
- Oliver Neto, University of Bristol, HARTS & Minds: The Journal of Humanities and Arts, Vol.2, No.3
Haptic Modernism is fundamentally generative, opening up new domains of scholarship on the topic of modernism and the history of the senses.
- Jesse Schotter, James Joyce Quarterly, Volume 51, Number 1

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