With groundbreaking contributions by Marshall McLuhan, Oliver Sacks, Italo Calvino and Alain Corbin, among others, Empire of the Senses overturns linguistic and textual models of interpretation and places sensory experience at the forefront of cultural analysis. The senses are gateways of knowledge, instruments of power, sources of pleasure and pain - and they are subject to dramatically different constructions in different societies and periods. Empire of the Senses charts the new terrains opened up by the sensual revolution in scholarship, as it takes the reader into the sensory worlds of the medieval witch and the postmodern mall, a Japanese tea ceremony and a Boston shelter for the homeless. This compelling revisioning of history and cultural studies sparkles with wit and insight and is destined to become a landmark in the field.

chapter |17 pages


Empires of the Senses

part I|35 pages

The Prescience of the Senses

section |32 pages

‘Culture Tunes Our Neurons’

chapter 1|18 pages

The Mind's Eye

What the Blind See

chapter 2|10 pages

Inside the Five Sense Sensorium

part II|87 pages

The Shifting Sensorium

section |85 pages

Historicizing Perception

chapter 3|11 pages

Remembering the Senses

chapter 4|15 pages

The Witch's Senses

Sensory Ideologies and Transgressive Femininities from the Renaissance to Modernity

chapter 5|21 pages

The Senses Divided

Organs, Objects, and Media in Early Modern England

chapter 6|22 pages

The Death of the Sensuous Chemist

The ‘New’ Chemistry and the Transformation of Sensuous Technology

part III|102 pages


section |99 pages

Sensation in Cultural Context

chapter 8|17 pages

McLuhan in the Rainforest

The Sensory Worlds of Oral Cultures

chapter 9|15 pages

Consciousness as ‘Feeling in the Body’

A West African Theory of Embodiment, Emotion and the Making of Mind

chapter 10|13 pages

Places Sensed, Senses Placed

Toward a Sensuous Epistemology of Environments

chapter 11|20 pages

The Way of Tea

A Symbolic Analysis

chapter 12|12 pages

Engaging the Spirits of Modernity

Temiar Songs for a Changing World

chapter 13|18 pages

Home Cooking

Filipino Women and Geographies of the Senses in Hong Kong

part IV|113 pages

The Aestheticization of Everyday Life

section |110 pages

Aestheticization Takes Command

chapter 14|14 pages

A Tonic of Wildness

Sensuousness in Henry David Thoreau

chapter 15|16 pages

Volatile Effects

Olfactory Dimensions of Art and Architecture

chapter 17|14 pages

Under the Jaguar Sun

chapter 18|17 pages

Michel Serres' Five Senses

chapter 19|20 pages

Darwin's Disgust

part V|42 pages

The Derangement of the Senses

section |40 pages

The Senses Disordered

chapter 21|11 pages

Movement, Stillness

On the Sensory World of a Shelter for the ‘Homeless Mentally Ill’

chapter 22|17 pages


Emplacing Environmental Sensitivities