Touched by surrealism : Reflections on a New Sensory Approach to Literature


  • Piet Devos


Mots-clés :

Benjamin Péret, haptics, surrealism, sensory perception, poésie


In this paper, I discuss a new sensory approach to literature. Literature might be studied in order to trace the perceptual effects of cultural, political and technological transformations. First, I develop a historicizing method, which maps the sensory practices and discourses of a certain period and analyzes their appropriation in contemporary literature. Next, I demonstrate the fruitfulness of this approach by taking Surrealism as a case study, focusing on the role of touch or "haptics" in the works of Benjamin Péret. The concluding remarks will serve to hint at the new routes of research which this sensory approach discloses.

Biographie de l'auteur

Piet Devos

Piet Devos works at the Department of European Languages and Cultures at the University of Groningen. His PhD thesis, which he defended in 2013, describes the correlation between the innovations of avant-garde poetry and the new subjectivistic understanding of sensory perception in the early twentieth century. Devos is currently preparing a postdoctoral research project, entitled "Vibrations, movement and pain", that aims to study the exchange of ideas between literature and science concerning the haptic effects of modern technology in the period 1880-1940.




Comment citer

Devos, P. (2014) « Touched by surrealism : Reflections on a New Sensory Approach to Literature », RELIEF - REVUE ÉLECTRONIQUE DE LITTÉRATURE FRANÇAISE, 8(2), p. 62–77. doi: 10.18352/relief.897.



Articles – dossier thématique