Rachel Aumiller received a PhD in Philosophy from Villanova University in 2016. She has since held a research position in Germany at the Universität Hamburg, where she also taught undergraduate and graduate philosophy courses. She writes on the split structure of subjectivity that emerges through experiences of embodied and linguistic contradictions. Aumiller led a two-year research initiative at the Universität Hamburg’s Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies and the University of Ljubljana that resulted in a collective volume A Touch of Doubt: On Haptic Skepticism (2020).

One of her articles from this period, ‘Fantasies of Forgetting Our Mother Tongue’, in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy was awarded 2018 ‘Best Submission by a Junior Scholar’ by the Society of Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy. Through the support of a Fulbright grant to Slovenia, she trained in the Ljubljana School of Psychoanalysis and developed her forthcoming book The Laughing Matter of Spirit on comic resistance and social change in Hegel, Marx, Benjamin, and Yugoslavian partisan theater.

Reductions of Touch and Sensual Excess
ICI Project 2020-22

This project explores scientific and philosophical framings of touch within two kinds of reductive models. The first reduction treats touch as either an object of scientific inquiry or as a tool to test what we can know (e.g., epidemiology, epistemology). The second attempts to produce a pure description of experiences of touch (e.g., phenomenology, forensic linguistics). To pursue the question of touch in these theoretical frameworks means to encounter an excess of sensuality that cannot be contained by these reductions.

The failure of the frameworks to fully grasp haptic experience highlights the demand for an ethical response to the dimensions of touch-relations that opens a space of radical uncertainty. This project develops an ethics of touch, not as a framework, but as an ongoing activity that must be negotiated in the tensions between theoretical reductions, sensual excess, and uncertainty.