Cultural history (2015/2016)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Alessandro Arcangeli
Alessandro Arcangeli
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Semestrino IIA dal Feb 22, 2016 al Apr 16, 2016.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

To acquire familiarity with the field of cultural history, a critical competence on its intellectual vocabulary and a first introduction to its worldwide literature; to develop strategies for the interpretation of sources via this mode of enquiry.


Contents: The history of the senses.
1. AHR Forum: The Senses in History, “American Historical Review”, 116 (aprile 2011), pp. 307-400 (essays by Martin Jay, Sophia Rosenfeld, Mark Jenner, Jessica Riskin, Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Elizabeth Harvey);
2. Every student will choose (at least) the introduction or one of the nine other sections which form the six volumes of A Cultural History of the Senses, London, Bloomsbury, 2014 [available c/o the Biblioteca Frinzi], and will study it in all volumes (the six editorial introductions, or else the six chapters entitled 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 or Sensory Media); alternatively, if chronological rather thematic consistency is preferred, a whole volume.

3. A choice of one book among the following:
Charles Burnett, Michael Fend and Penelope Gouk (eds), The Second Sense: Studies in Hearing and Musical Judgement from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century, London, Warburg Institute, 1991;
Constance Classen, David Howes and Anthony Synnott, Aroma: The cultural history of smell, London, Routledge, 1994;
Constance Classen, The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch, Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 2012;
Alain Corbin, The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social
Imagination, Cambridge, MA, Harvard UP, 1986;
Alain Corbin, Village Bells. Sound and Meaning in the Nineteenth-Century French Countryside, London, Macmillan, 1999;
W.F. Bynum e Roy Porter (a cura di), Medicine and the Five Senses, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004;
David Howes, Sensual Relations: Engaging the senses in culture and social theory, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2003;
Robert Jütte, A History of the Senses. From Antiquity to Cyberspace, Cambridge, Polity, 2005;
Stephen G. Nichols, Andreas Kablitz e Alison Calthoun (a cura di), Rethinking the medieval senses: heritage, fascinations, frames, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008;
Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1962;
Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy: The technologizing of the world, London, Routledge, 1988;
Bruce R. Smith, The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor. Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1999.

3. Further reading, suggested during the course, will not be added to exam requirements.

Teaching methods: lectures plus seminar-like meetings.

Assessment methods and criteria

Essay on the general bibliography, completed by oral interview on the book of choice.