The City and the Senses: Urban Culture Since 1500, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The City and the Senses

Urban Culture Since 1500, 1st Edition

By Jill Steward

Edited by Alexander Cowan


260 pages

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How do we experience a city in terms of the senses? What are the inter-relations between human experience and behaviour in urban space? This volume examines these questions in the context of European urban culture between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries, exploring the institutions and ideologies relating to the range of sensual experience and its interpretation. Spanning pre-industrial and modern cities in Britain, France, Germany and the United States, it enables the reader to establish major contrasts and continuities in what is still an evolving urban experience. Divided into sections corresponding to the five senses: noise, vision, taste, touch and smell, each sections allows for comparisons which act as reminders that the experience of the city was a multi-sensual one, and that these experiences were as much intellectual as physical in their nature.


'This book raises many interesting and thought provoking points in relation to the city and a range of senses and its publication is a welcome one. For too long, sight has been the primary sense and the reawakening of other senses is long overdue.' The Dog Rose Trust ’This is an interesting and important book on a hitherto rather neglected subject… The editorial introduction offers both a useful theoretical survey and an overview of trends from the Renaissance onwards… a raft of lively and informative studies follows… the editors, Alex Cowan and Jill Steward, are to be congratulated on producing an excellent pioneering work.’ H-Albion and H-Net Review ’What this book offers the reader is a new appreciation in examining the city, and it sheds light on how the senses could act as a vehicle through which the historical urban context can be explored.’ Urban Geography Research Group ’… The City and the Senses is essential reading for any scholar working on questions relating to the urban.’ Senses & Society

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction, Jill Steward and Alexander Cowan. Part One An Environment of All the Senses: Stench in 16th-century Venice, Jo Wheeler; ’Not carrying out the vile and mechanical arts’. Touch as a measure of social distinction in early modern Venice, Alexander Cowan; Speaking and listening in early modern London, Laura Wright; Engineering vision in early modern Paris, Ulf Strohmayer. Part Two The Culture of Consumption: Touching London: contact, sensibility and the city, Ava Arndt; Sewers and sensibilities: the bourgeois faecal experience in the 19th-century city, David Inglis; ’We demand good and healthy beer.’ The nutritional and social significance of beer for the lower classes in mid-19th-century Munich, Kim Carpenter; Boulevard culture and advertising as spectacle in 19th-century Paris, Hazel Hahn. Part Three Cultural Control and Cultural Subversion: A taste of Vienna: food as a signifier of urban modernity in Vienna 1890-1930, Janet Stewart; Seeing imperial Berlin: Lesser Ury, the painter as stranger, Dorothy Rowe; Street noises: celebrating the Liberation of Paris in music and dance, Rosemary Wakeman. Index.

About the Author/Editor

Alexander Cowan is Reader in History and Jill Steward is Senior Lecturer in Cultural History both at Northumbria University, UK.

About the Series

Historical Urban Studies Series

Historical Urban Studies Series
Historical Urban Studies presents outstanding new research in urban history, and provides students with much-needed analytical frameworks from which to make comparative historical judgements. Titles in the series explore crime, housing conditions, property values, health, education, discrimination & deviance, as well as the formulation of social policies and urban solutions from across Europe. The series also provides a long historical perspective from which to understand shifts in town hierarchy, and changes in social processes.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century