In the 20th century, many aspects of life became ‘a matter of perception’ in the wake of the multiplication of media, stylistic experimentation, and the rise of multiculturalism. Life sped up as a result of new modes of transportation – automobiles and airplanes – and communication – telephones and personal computers – which emphasized the rapid movement of people and ideas. The proliferation of synthetic products and simulated experiences, from artificial flavours to video games, in turn, created heady virtual worlds of sensation. This progressive mediation and acceleration of sensation, along with the sensory and environmental pollution it often spawned, also sparked various countertrends, such as the ‘back to nature’ movement, the craft movement, slow food and alternative medicine. This volume shows how attending to the sensory dynamics of the modern age yields many fresh insights into the intertwined processes which gave the 20th century its particular feel of technological prowess and gaudy artificiality.
A Cultural History of the Senses in the Modern Age presents essays on the following topics: the social life of the senses; urban sensations; the senses in the marketplace; the senses in religion; the senses in philosophy and science; medicine and the senses; the senses in literature; art and the senses; and sensory media.