NEMLA 2014 Convention Panel "Haptic Aesthetics: Exploring the Tactile in Literature"

full name / name of organization: 
North East Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
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Panel on "Haptic Aesthetics: Exploring the Tactile in Literature"
46th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

Deadline: September 30, 2014

Conference Dates: April 30–May 3, 2015
Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario

Panel Description:
Literature is one place where we can come to understand the touch and feel of things, and recently theorists in a variety of fields have begun to investigate the philosophical and sociocultural implications of the sensual. This panel will explore the tactile and sensory aspects of literature, examining how the "sensory turn" and theories of touch – or haptic aesthetics – have impacted the production of literary theory.
Touch has been primarily understood as the action or act of touching with the hand, finger, or other part of the body; tactile touch can therefore be classified as immediate and direct physical contact, being near enough to touch or be touched, being within reach or accessible, or the potential for contact. Yet the etymology of the term 'haptic' has also extended the metaphoric meaning of touch to the semantic field of affect and emotion: to be touched means to be affected emotionally as well as physically. Touch not only functions as a physical form of verification but also a platform for understanding the less coherent or conscious forms of touch, such as the connections between different bodies across social, political, or geographic boundaries.
Papers from this panel are thus encouraged to survey diverse subfields of literature, including different genres, texts, and eras, in order to investigate how haptic theory has proliferated an ongoing interest in the tactile, affective, and sensual aspects of literature.

To submit an abstract proposal, please go to, create a user account and sign in. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words.

Direct questions may also go to the chair:
Nicole Birch-Bayley
University of Toronto