In order to show off the wide range of excellent work being produced on smell and the past to as wide an audience as possible, we are drawing on the Odeuropa Network and PastScent membership to put together a series of ‘Smellinars’. These free, online seminars will feature a range of speakers talking about their work on smell and the past, olfactory heritage, and sensory mining. Here you can find details about upcoming and past smellinars.

Upcoming Smellinars:

In the last semester of the Odeuropa project (September-December 2023), we will present a new series of smell-studies seminars. The smellinars are hosted online between 16:00-17:30 GMT (17:00-18:30 CEST) EXCEPT 7th November (17:00-18:30). Smell experts from different disciplines will provide short (15 minute presentations), followed by discussion. The programme can be found below:

27th September, 2023
Ancient Aromas

Barbara Huber, whose work is tracing the global dimensions of the dispersal of ancient aromatics and spices throughout Asia and East Africa using biochemical and biomolecular analyses to characterize organic remains. Barbara’s methodology is explored in her recently published article in Nature.

Sean Coughlin, whose project Alchemies of Scent is Junior Star Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy and Associate Scientist at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences, whose project Alchemies of Scent uses text and experiment to understand the practice of ancient Egyptian and Greek perfumery, to study its place in the history of chemistry and science, and to examine the changing connections between art, craft, science and culture in the ancient Mediterranean world.

Mario Baumann, is Junior Professor in Classics at Technische Universität Dresden. His recent work has been examining literary representations of scent and odourlessness. He is co-founder of the working group Sensorium and has co-organised a major conference on ‘Experiencing smell and taste in the Greco-Roman world’ in Dresden.

13th October, 2023
Medieval Smells

Katelynn Robinson is Assistant Professor of History at Eastern New Mexico University. Her research focuses on the intellectual history of smell in medieval Europe and her most recent book is The Sense of Smell in the Middle Ages: A Source of Certainty (London: Routledge, 2020). She received her PhD in medieval European history at the University of Missouri, Columbia in 2017.

Adam Bursi is a researcher studying early Islam in dialogue with other late antique religions. His work has appeared in numerous academic journals, including an article in a recent special issue of The Senses and Society on the sensory history of the Islamic world. His paper will examine early Islamic practices of, and debates about, using pleasant scent to venerate sites associated with the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca and Medina.

Flavia Xi Fang is currently a Ho Peng Yoke Research Fellow at Needham Research Institute and Robinson College, University of Cambridge. She recently completed her PhD at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, with a thesis titled “Navigating the Smellscape in Medieval China”.

25th October, 2023
Early or Modern Scents?

Clara May is a doctoral Assistant at the University of Neuchâtel, where she is working on a thesis on the imagination and evocation of the presence of perfume in eighteenth-century French artistic production. The project proposes, on the one hand, to identify the cultural, social, aesthetic and moral issues of perfume and, on the other hand, to analyze the relationship between sight and smell in French artistic practices of the period.

Jan Van Dijkhuizen is an Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Leiden. He has recently started a new project, funded by the NWO, on ‘The Poetics of Olfaction in Early Modernity’. This will trace how the language of smell was used to convey ideas about the ineffable and the relationship between humans and the natural environment. It will also work with teachers, poets, spoken word artists, novelists, and scent designers to design nose-wise lesson programmes for teaching literature in secondary schools.

Manon Raffard is a PhD candidate at the University of Burgundy (Dijon, France). In their paper they will be exploring the topic ‘Olfaction Theory in 19th century France: disputes, controversies, ideologies’. Her research focuses on the interactions between olfaction and the production of knowledge in French culture and Literature between 1857 and 1914. Although primarily working within sensory studies, she also touches on cultural history, material studies, and plant humanities (among others). She is also the editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Éclats (, indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

7th November, 2023 17:00-18:30 UK Time
Twentieth-Century Odours
Xuelei Huang is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Edinburgh, whose current research focuses on sensory history in modern China. Their recent book, Scents of China: A Modern History of Smell (Cambridge University Press, 2023), revisits modern Chinese history through the nose. They have have also recently co-edited a volume (with Shengqing Wu) entitled Sensing China: Modern Transformations of Sensory Culture (Routledge, 2022). This brings together twelve articles by internationally renowned scholars, this book explores the deeply rooted meanings that the senses have ingrained in culture and society of modern China
Jas Brooks (they/them) is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Their doctoral research delves into the design of devices that chemically stimulate and manipulate human senses, such as smell and taste. Outside of their doctoral pursuits, they independently delve into media archaeology, with an emphasis on historical scent technologies and related media from the 20th century onwards. This work includes the conservation of 1960s cinematic scent technologies and their films (such as Smell-O-Vision! and AromaRama), collecting oral histories from dot-com era scent tech companies, and uncovering olfactory film exhibitions from as early as 1910.
Jessica Clark is an Associate Professor of History at Brock University. Jessica’s current project – ‘“Scents of Change: Experiencing Modernity in Britain, 1880-1930” mobilizes historical descriptions of smell to analyze circulating ideas about modern experience more generally, including the ways that certain groups—such as the urban poor and foreign nationals—were included and excluded from dominant narratives of national belonging. One result of the project is a forthcoming article on lavender in the Journal of British Studies.
Stephanie Weismann is a historian based at the University of Vienna, where they have worked on the smells of 1920s and 1930s Lublin. This has resulted in a number of articles exploring the city’s interwar smellscapes. They are currently running a Citizen Science project ‘Wein der Nase nach‘ recovering the stories, memories, and knowledge of Vienna’s smell history and heritage.

22th November, 2023
Postmodern Whiffs
Ally Louks is a PhD student in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge. Before Cambridge, she completed a degree in English Literature at the University of Exeter and a Master’s degree in Issues in Modern Culture at UCL. Her PhD thesis examines the role of olfactory language and perception in hierarchically structuring our social world, with a focus on disgust, desire and ambivalent affects. Ally’s interests lie primarily in Post-45 Literature and Critical Theory and her research is situated in interdisciplinary sensory studies.
Abi Smith is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. Her research explores the interconnections between the senses, law and governance. Focusing on the creation of olfactory evidence in relation to unequal waste infrastructures in New York City she currently aims to centre the questions of how odours are (i) perceived, (ii) translated and (iii) understood within legal processes. Abi is also interested in the use of creative and mobile methodologies to better capture the sensory.
Siôn Parkinson is an artist, composer, performer and curator. Recent projects are inspired by his research into sound and smell, particularly ‘bad’ smells, including phantosmia (olfactory hallucinations). His forthcoming book Stinkhorn: how Nature’s most foul smelling mushroom can change the way we listen will be published in 2024. He recently completed his PhD in Sound Studies at the University of Leeds where he was an Amanda Burton scholar.

If you have any questions about these sessions, please email

Previous Smellinars:

23 June, 2021, The Past, Present, and Future of Smell and Heritage with Prof Asifa Majid, Prof Holly Dugan, and Prof Matija Strlič.

Asifa Majid is an Inspirational Research Leader and Professor at the University of York. She has been awarded numerous prizes and awards for her work on olfactory language and cognition across diverse cultures.

Holly Dugan is an Associate Professor of English at The George Washington University. She is the author of The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England (JHU Press, 2011) and co-editor with Karen Raber of The Routledge Handbook of Shakespeare and Animals (Routledge 2020); she also co-editor with Lara Farina of “The Intimate Senses” (a special issue of Postmedieval), co-editor with Karl Steel of “Fabulous Animals” (a special cluster in Early Modern Culture). She is currently working on two book projects, including “Shakespeare and the Senses” (under contract with ACMRS Press).

Matija Strlič is Professor of Heritage Science at University College London and Professor of Analytical Chemistry at University of Ljubljana. He works on the development of heritage science infrastructure, including instrumentation and methodology, as well as modelling of heritage materials, environments, values and decision making. He has worked on topics related to preventive conservation and material emissions, including smells of heritage and heritage smells.

26 May, 2021,
Professor David Howes, Follow Your Nose: Thirty Years Researching Smell

Our first speaker, Professor David Howes, is a pioneer in sensory studies. He is a Professor of Anthropology and the Co-Director of the Centre for Sensory Studies at Concordia University, and an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at McGill University, Montreal. He is the co-author of the award-winning book, Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (Routledge, 1994), which devotes equal space to exploring the history, anthropology and sociology of olfaction. His latest book is the 4-volume Senses and Sensation: Critical and Primary Sources compendium (Routledge, 2018) and his next book is called The Sensory Studies Manifesto (forthcoming from University of Toronto Press).

Following the publication of the ground-breaking Aroma, the study of smell has grown into an exciting area of interdisciplinary study. In this talk Professor Howes will reflect on the past, present, and future of that world.

This blogpost explores Professor Howes’s talk.