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Coming to our senses: Revisiting the haptic as a perceptual system

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The article responds to current calls by art educators to expand consideration of the senses beyond the visual. Revisiting the haptic is necessary in order to understand recent, especially feminist, art. Reconceptualizing the haptic is necessary because the haptic carries baggage from past uses of the concept that are deeply problematic. These include the proposal by art historians that the haptic constitutes an artistic drive comparable, though inferior, to a visual drive, and the proposal by art educators that the haptic represents a favoured personality type. These problematic proposals are outlined in order to demarcate them from the current reconceptualization that draws upon recent theorizing from psychology about the senses and perceptual systems as well as phenomenological philosophy, feminist art theory and women’s art practice.
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Keywords: haptic; occularcentricism; perceptual system; phenomenology; senses; women’s art

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Illinois

Publication date: October 11, 2011

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  • The International Journal of Education through Art is an English language journal that promotes relationships between art and education. The term 'art education' should be taken to include art, craft and design education. Each issue, published three times a year within a single volume, consists of peer-reviewed articles mainly in the form of research reports and critical essays, but may also include exhibition reviews and image-text features.

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