Tactile Poetics: Touch and Contemporary Writing (Edinburgh University Press, 2015)

A new critical perspective on the relationship between text and tact in 20th- and 21st-century literature and theory

The intimate links between the page and the skin have been explored by writers for centuries. Yet despite the current interest in the surface of the body, the relationship between touching and writing remains neglected. Drawing on new debates in deconstruction and psychoanalysis, this book provides an original and timely intervention in the field. Exploring insights from Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous, and through close readings of work by writers such as Anne Carson, Siri Hustvedt and Michael Ondaatje, Tactile Poetics investigates the law of tact that always interrupts contact, and examines the different ways that literary texts work to ‘touch’ their readers.

Key Features

  • Conceptualises the relationship between touching and writing through a theory of ‘tactile poetics’
  • Offers in-depth analysis of a range of literary genres including short fiction, poetry, autobiography, correspondence and the novel
  • Examines writings on touch by Anzieu, Cixous, Derrida, Freud and Nancy
  • Explores the intersections between creative and critical thinking and writing

Tactile Poetics is an original and compelling study. It is also, in its singularly gentle manner, a work of pressing importance. Interweaving lucid and thought-provoking expositions of Anzieu, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Nancy and others, with deft and inventive readings of an adventurous range of recent fictional and poetic texts, Jackson’s book shows how the subject of touch is at the heart of contemporary writing and theory.’ – Professor Nicholas Royle, University of Sussex

Tactile Poetics takes excellent care of the intellectual and imaginative possibilities of its subject. Jackson’s lucid, subtle engagement with touch and associated topics combines a poet’s sensitivity, scholar’s rigour and thinker’s curiosity. Her book belongs alongside classic studies by Anzieu, Connor and Nancy.’ – Dr Sarah Wood, University of Kent and Guild of Psychotherapists

‘… [G]round-breaking … Anyone interested in tactile criticism where touch is both a physical reality and a metaphor should definitely get in touch with Jackson’s book.’ – Forum for Modern Language Studies (April, 2016)



Literature and Telephony

Sarah’s current research examines the relationship between telephony and literature, exploring the ways that the telephone has been conceived by writers and thinkers from the nineteenth-century to the present day. Considering the ways that the telephone has changed how we read and write, it analyses the impact of developing telephone technologies on language and form in texts by Mark Twain, Muriel Spark, Haruki Murakami and Sara Ruhl, among others. Unique to this project is a collaboration with the BT Archives in London, the repository of the public records of the world’s oldest communications company. Examining key resources such as St Martin’s Le Grand and The National Telephone Journal, alongside theoretical work by Sigmund Freud, Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous, Sarah is investigating the burgeoning interest in telepathy that emerged alongside the invention of the telephone.

You can find out more by listening to Sarah’s podcast entitled Fiction on the Phone. Featuring an interview with author Jon McGregor, it was broadcast on Resonance FM in June 2015.

Sarah has also published widely on psychoanalysis, deconstruction and literature in academic journals such as Oxford Literary Review and Angelaki. View full details of her publications at Nottingham Trent University.