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The sensorial body in leisure and entertainment

Le corps sensoriel au sein des loisirs et des divertissements

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Published on Thursday, July 13, 2017


Le goût, l’odorat, le toucher, l’ouïe et la vue répondent à tout stimulus de manière variée et complexe. Difficile à saisir et à cerner, il est toutefois possible de brosser un portrait du corps sensoriel qui émerge au sein de la société de l’Ancien Régime. L’époque moderne, du 16e au début du 19e siècle, catalyse la genèse des pratiques culturelles liées aux loisirs et aux divertissements : théâtre, musée, exposition temporaire, promenade, jeu de cartes ou de table, café, taverne, foire, jardin, voyage. Ces activités placent l’individu dans un cadre spécifique, au cœur d’une action ; action qui incite et excite chacun des sens, à des degrés divers. Les cinq sens, toujours en veille, ne demandent qu’à s’émouvoir, s’épanouir et s’exprimer. Il ne reste plus qu’à cueillir les témoignages et à tenter de relever les caractéristiques, les limites et la substance de chacun des sens.



The sensory body in leisure and entertainment.

International Meeting

Canadian Research Chair in History of Leisure and Entertainment

Under the direction of Isabelle Pichet, Laurent Turcot and Marc-André Bernier The University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, Quebec, February 22 and 23 2018


Perpetually solicited by the environment with wich they interact, the senses give rise to sensations, emotions, feelings of pleasure and displeasure (Fechner 1966 (1860)). The history of the senses is inscribed in the larger history of sensibility, where it is possible to discern deeper and more precise understandings of the concept of the social imaginary (Corbin, 1990). Taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight respond to stimulus in a varied and complex way. While difficult to grasp, much less pin down, it is nevertheless possible to paint a portrait of the sensory body that emerges during the society of the Ancien Régime. The modern era, from the 16th to the beginning of the 19th century, catalyzed new cultural practices of leisure and entertainment: theater, museums, temporary exhibitions, promenades, card and table games, cafes, taverns, fairs, gardens, travels. These activities place the individual within a specific framework, at the heart of an action that incites and excites each of the senses to varying degrees. The five senses always at the ready only require stimulation in order to react, to flourish, and to make their overlapping intensities know. What remains to the scholar, the historian of the senses, is to gather testimonials and to attempt to identify the characteristics, limits and substances of each of the senses.

This conference aims to identify, define, and understand how the senses were challenged and how they responded to new and emerging leisure and entertainment activities during the 18th century. To what extent did promoters and event organizers deploy an expanding range of sensorial entertainment in order to enhance sensory reactions in their clients and participants? Were the “diversions” of the 18th century deliberately designed to provoke greater sensorial engagement? And if so, were these efforts successful, and with what larger historical consequences? And as for the participant or the public, they who partook in these activities, what were the results, in terms of the shaping of individual and collective sensorial experience? The five senses, so inextricably linked to the organs of perception, are defined in relation to the environment to which they react. But how was this so, and what precisely were the reactions? For conveners of public and for-profit events, which were the most sought-after senses, and why? Rather than constrain our discussion, these topics and questions will, we hope, prompt more reflection upon the diversity and the complexity of this subject, and suggest even further topics for our collection consideration.

This multidisciplinary conference seeks to be a laboratory for engagement with current projects and various approaches that consider the history of the senses in the context of leisure and entertainment during the 18th century.

We look forward to welcoming scholars from across the disciplines that compose the human sciences: the history of art, literature, philosophy, sociology, history, and so forth.

This call for papers solicits proposals for as-yet unpublished papers that will increase our understanding of the foundations and limits of the sensory body that emerged during the modern era.

Submission Guidelines

Papers shall not exceed the thirty minutes allocated to each participant.

Proposals (title and abstract of 250 words, institutional affiliation) should be sent to the committee

before September 15th, 2017

at the following two addresses: isabelle.pichet@uqtr.ca and laurent.turcot@uqtr.ca

Scientific Committee

  • Isabelle Pichet, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
  • Laurent Turcot, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
  • Marc-André Bernier, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

Bibliographie :

Alain Corbin, « Histoire et anthropologie sensorielle », Anthropologie et Sociétés, vol. 14, no2, 1990, p. 13-24.

Gustav Fechner, Elements of Psychophysics, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966 (1860).



  • 3351 Boulevard des Forges
    Trois-Rivières, Canada (G9A 5H7)


  • Friday, September 15, 2017


  • Corps sensoriel, loisirs, divertissements, 5 sens, goût, toucher, odorat, vue, ouïe, public, participant, promoteur, époque moderne, 18e siècle, Ancien Régime


  • Isabelle Pichet
    courriel : rc [dot] hist [dot] multi [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Isabelle Pichet
    courriel : rc [dot] hist [dot] multi [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The sensorial body in leisure and entertainment », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, July 13, 2017, https://calenda.org/411628

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