Événements & colloques
Séminaire TACT. Toucher, Arts, Affects (Sorbonne nouvelle, format hybride)

Séminaire TACT. Toucher, Arts, Affects (Sorbonne nouvelle, format hybride)

Publié le par Faculté des lettres - Université de Lausanne (Source : Caroline Pollentier)

7/02/2024 Literary haptics

Thomas Constantinesco (Paris Sorbonne)

“‘Miss James’s Hand!’: The Touch of Writing in the Diary of Alice James”

Respondent: Édouard Marsoin (Paris Cité)


Sorbonne Nouvelle, Campus Nation, salle B115


28/03/2024 Visual haptics

Guillemette Bolens (Université de Genève)

“The Cinematography of Haptic Gestures in the Era of Streaming Platforms”

Respondents: Martine Beugnet (visual studies, Paris Cité) and Aliyah Morgenstern (gesture studies, Sorbonne Nouvelle) 


Sorbonne Nouvelle, Campus Nation, salle B115


25/04/2024 Tact 

Katja Haustein (University of Kent)

“‘Feeling for the Sense’: Tact and the Art of Interpretation” 

Respondent: Naomi Toth (Paris Nanterre, IUF)


Sorbonne Nouvelle, Campus Nation, salle B115


6/06/2024 Tactile Fictions 

Erika Natalia Molina Garcia (Universidad de la Frontera):

"The Phenomenology of Time and Touch in Alejandra Costamagna’s El Sistema del Tacto"

Yasna Bozhkova (Paris Nanterre):

“Amputated Limbs and the Politics of Touch in Claude McKay’s Romance in Marseille”

Sarah Bouttier (Polytechnique):

“Restoring Touch in Ecofeminist Speculative Fiction”

Respondent: Marie Laniel (Picardie Jules Verne)


Maison de la recherche, Salle du conseil, 4 rue des Irlandais


TACT (Touch, Arts, Affects)

Second Seminar Series

The goal of the TACT network (Touch, Arts, Affects) is to interrogate the experience of touch in works of art and to explore the diversity of haptic affects across artistic media. With speakers from various disciplines and areas of expertise, we intend to discuss the elusive tactility of the arts in relation to technology, science, ethics, politics, and everyday life. Though long considered as a minor sense, touch is now reclaimed as the “first sense” (Fulkerson), which defines intersubjectivity from embryonic formation to social interactions. The main hypothesis of this seminar is that touch constitutes a primordial dimension of aesthetic experience and cannot, as such, be reduced to the language of affect. When texts, films, dances or performances touch us, how do they mobilise and mediate haptics—even when there is apparently no actual contact? Didier Anzieu’s psychoanalytical concept of the skin-ego, theorised after Freud’s early work on “contact barriers,” revalued the epidermis as a founding affective boundary. The recent discovery of C-tactile afferents in neurobiology has subsequently renewed the understanding of “affective touch” (McGlone), now conceived of as a physiological category distinct from discriminative touch. In dialogue, but also in contradistinction with the science of affective touch, this seminar defends the ability of the arts and the humanities to register tactile experiences and affects, to retrace their genealogies, and to imagine haptic futures. 

The singularity of the tactile sense lies in its reflexivity—one is touched when one touches (Husserl, Merleau-Ponty). Focusing on the ethics and politics of this chiasm, this seminar foregrounds the ability of haptic aesthetics to disrupt and remodel relationality. From Marinetti’s utopian “Manifesto of Tactilism” to Jan Švankmajer’s tactile collages, from the transgender craft of “the handmade” (Vaccaro) to “touchscreen archælogies” (Strauven), from the “shared motricity” of contact improvisation (Bigé) to the body-centered medium of performance, touch produces aesthetic dissensus and reconfigures communal sensorialities. But tactile experience also materialises acute forms of vulnerability—“hapticality, the touch of the undercommons” (Moten and Harney). Haptics alerts us to shared conditions of exposure and embodied forms of exclusion, even as it opens up concrete modalities of care (Puig de la Bellacasa). 

This second seminar series will more specifically address touch in literature, cinema, and philosophy. As such, it will engage with multiple “senses of touch” (Paterson) and varying degrees of haptic presence and absence across media, from streaming platforms to narrative fictions. By exploring the artistic shapes of the “touchable-untouchable,” as theorised by Jacques Derrida in the wake of Jean-Luc Nancy, we intend to place touch at the core of aesthetic dissensus—between optics and haptics, between the bodily and the virtual, between agency and passivity, between coloniality and decoloniality, between ableism and disability. In our economic and technological “age of excarnation” (Kearney), what can the arts and the humanities remind us about our own skins? 

Selected bibliography

ANZIEU, Didier, The Skin-Ego, 1985, trans. Naomi Segal (London: Carnac, 2016). 

BIGÉ, Emma, “Sentir et se mouvoir ensemble. Micro-politiques du contact improvisation,” Recherches en danse [online] 4, 2015. 

BOLENS, Guillemette, “L’Haptique en art et en littérature : Ovide, Proust et Antonello de Messine,” Le Toucher : prospections médicales, artistiques et littéraires, ed. Maria de Jesus Cabral, José Domingues de Almeida et Gérard Danou (Paris: Le Manuscrit, 2019), 25-37.  

CLASSEN, Constance (ed.), The Book of Touch (Oxford: Berg, 2005).

DERRIDA, Jacques, Le Toucher, Jean-Luc Nancy (Paris: Galilée, 2000). 

FREUD, Sigmund, “Project for a Scientific Psychology,” The Origins of Psychoanalysis: Letters, Drafts and Notes to Wilhelm Fliess 1887-1902, ed. M. Bonaparte et al. (New York: Basic Books, 1954), 347-445. 

FULKERSON, Matthew, The First Sense. A Philosophical Study of Human Touch (Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2014). 

GARRINGTON, Abbie, Haptic Modernism: Touch and the Tactile in Modernist Writing (EUP, 2013).

GOH, Irving, “Introducing Touching Literature: Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See,” New Centennial Review 19.3 (2019): 241-64. 

HUSSERL, Edmund, Recherches phénoménologiques pour la constitution, Idées directrices 2 (Paris: PUF, 1982).

JACKSON, Sarah, Tactile Poetics. Touch and Contemporary Writing (EUP, 2015).

KEARNEY, Richard, Touch. Recovering Our Most Vital Sense (New York: Columbia UP, 2021). 

KOMEL, Mirt, The Language of Touch. Philosophical Examinations in Linguistics and Haptic Studies (London: Bloomsbury, 2019).

MARINETTI, F. T., “Manifesto of Tactilism” (1924), Futurism: An Anthology, ed. Lawrence Rainey, Christine Poggi, and Laura Wittman (New Haven: Yale UP, 2009), 264-69. 

MARKS, Laura U., Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2002).

McGLONE, Francis, et al, “Discriminative and affective touch: sensing and feeling,” Neuron 82.4 (2014): 737-55. 

MERLEAU-PONTY, Maurice, Le Visible et l’invisible (Paris: Gallimard, 1964), 172-204. 

MOTEN, Fred, and Stephano HARNEY, The Undercommons. Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions, 2013). 

NANCY, Jean-Luc, Corpus (Paris: Métailié, 2006). 

PARRET, Herman, La Main et la matière, Jalons d’une haptologie de l’œuvre d’art (Paris : Hermann, 2018).

PATERSON, Mark, The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects, and Technologies (Oxford: Berg, 2007). 

PATOINE, Pierre-Louis, Corps / Texte. Pour une théorie de la lecture empathique, Lyon : ENS Éditions, 2015.

PUIG DE LA BELLACASA, María, “Touching Visions,” Matters of Care. Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds (Minneapolis, U of Minnesota P, 2017), 95-122. 

RIEGL, Alois, “Late Roman or Oriental?” 1902, German Essays on Art History, ed. G. Schiff (London: Continuum, 1997), 173-74. 

STRAUVEN, Wanda, Touchscreen Archælogies: Tracing Histories of Hands-On Media Practices (Lüneburg: Meson P, 2021). 

ŠVANKMAJER, Jan, Touching and Imagining, An Introduction to Tactile Art (London, I.B. Tauris, 2014). 

VACCARO, Jeanne, “Handmade,” Transgender Studies Quarterly 1-2 (2014): 96-97. 

VÉRINE, Bertrand, Le Toucher par les mots et par les textes (Paris : L’Harmattan, 2021).

With the support of Sorbonne Nouvelle University (EA Prismes 4398) & Institut Universitaire de France