Mark W.D. Paterson, PhD


2409 WW Posvar Hall


Mark Paterson is an Assistant Professor and has an interest in the history and science of bodily sensation, blindness and disability, and technologies of the senses. He has conducted research on the use of haptic technologies within museums, and the role of haptics in human-robot interaction (HRI). He is the author of The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects and Technologies (2007), and co-editor of Touching Place, Spacing Touch (2012). His book, Seeing with the Hands: Blindness, Vision and Touch After Descartes (2016) was published with Edinburgh University Press. He is the author of Consumption and Everyday Life (Routledge, 2006; 2nd Edition, 2017). His current book project is How We Became Sensory-Motor: Movement, Measurement, and Modernity, contracted with University of Minnesota Press. His research website is 

Fields of Interest

  • The body, senses, and technology in history and theory
  • Disability, especially blindness and vision impairment
  • Haptic technologies, accessibility, and assisted living
  • Robotics, and the mixed spaces of human-robot interactions (HRI)
  • Medical humanities


  • PhD, University of Bristol, 2002

My current book project shows how, on the basis of earnest scientific foundations in physiology and psychology in the nineteenth century, the cartography of the body and its interior sensations was redrawn.

My next research project concerns human-robot interactions (HRI) and will culminate in the publication of Animal Automata and Lifelike Machines: Robots, Replicants, and Companion Species (contracted with Routledge).

In addition, I am interested in past and present technologies of sensory substitution and what they teach us about disability, the senses and neuroplasticity.

Consumption and Everyday Life, 2nd Edition. Routledge. 2017

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

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

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

  • Society and Environment
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Consumption and Everyday Life
  • Medical Sociology
  • Social Theory
  • Body and Society
  • Classical Theory 

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’