Mark W.D. Paterson, PhD


2409 WW Posvar Hall


Mark Paterson is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Consumption and Everyday Life (Routledge 2005, soon to have a Second Edition), The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects and Technologies (Bloomsbury, 2007) and Seeing with the Hands: Blindness, Vision and Touch After Descartes (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) which looks at the Early Modern legacy of philosophical debates concerning vision and touch, and what this means for historical and contemporary understandings of blindness and vision impairment. He is co-editor of Touching Space, Placing Touch (Routledge, 2013). He has published articles in literature and social science journals on the senses, sensory methodologies, blindness, and haptic technologies, and has worked on funded projects in the areas of robot skin, the historical geography of the so-called ‘Blind Traveller’ James Holman, R.N., and the haptic modelling of prehistoric textiles in museum contexts. His current book project is How We Became Sensory-Motor: Mapping Movement in Modernity. His research website can be found at

Fields of Interest

  • The body, senses, and technology in history and theory
  • Disability, especially blindness and vision impairment
  • Haptic technologies, accessibility, and assisted living
  • Medical humanities


  • PhD, University of Bristol, 2002

My current book project, How We Became Sensory-Motor, examines how movement emerged as a key problematic in Modernity through experiments in physiology, photography, and neurology, especially between 1833 and 1945.

My research on blindness and vision impairment probes the historical conditions for conceptualizing perceptual experience through non-normative embodiment, and therefore places ‘blindness’ between disability studies and the history of science.

Seeing With the Hands: Blindness, Vision and Touch after Descartes. Edinburgh University Press. 2016

Consumption and Everyday Life: The New Sociology. 2006

The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects and Technologies. 2007

Touching Space, Placing Touch (Co-editor, with Martin Dodge). 2012

  • Society and Environment
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Consumption and Everyday Life
  • Medical Sociology

Editorial Board of the journals The Senses and Society and Emotion, Space & Society

Arts and Sciences Award, University of Pittsburgh. ‘Developing Novel Methods with Wearable Computing for Urban Ethnographic Research’

Royal Geographical Society (RGS) Small Research Grant. ‘In the Footsteps of the Blind Traveller: An historical geography of non-visual exploration’

AHRC and EPSRC Science and Heritage Research Cluster. ‘Touching the untouchable: increasing access to archaeological artefacts through virtual handling’

Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship, Spring 2017

Humanities Center Collaborative Faculty Research Award, University of Pittsburgh. Medical Humanities speaker series ‘Writing About Illness, Thinking About Health’

Special Initiative to Promote Scholarly Activity in the Humanities, University of Pittsburgh (with Dr. M. Chirimuuta, History and Philosophy of Science). ‘Evolving concepts of body sensation and motor control in the neuroscience of movement’