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Early Modern Sensory Experiences

EMSE 2023: Early Modern Sensory Encounters

8-9 June 2023, Kellogg College, University of Oxford

Interest in sensory experiences of the past has grown in recent years, with scholars engaging with both interdisciplinary and anthropological approaches in order to better understand historical lived experiences. This annual conference explores the visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory and/or olfactory elements of particular experiences across the globe between c.1400 and c.1700.

This year’s conference, ‘Sensory Encounters’, will consider sensory experiences as instances or reflections of cultural exchange and discuss possible methodologies and approaches to this particular subject.

Attendance can be online or in person. There are no registration fees but please register by 29 May 2023, here. A summary of the conference programme is below.

8 June

9:00-9:45         Registration and coffee

9:45-10:00      Welcome (Leah Clark and Helen Coffey)

10:00-11.30    Translocation/Translation

Tin Cugelj (University of Bern), ‘“Wunderlich grausams weter”: Multisensoriality of the Tempestuous Early Modern Adriatic Sea’

Faheem Hussain (The Institute of Ismaili Studies), ‘Citrus Fruits: Making Sense of Sensory Encounters in Al-Andalus’

Olena Morenets (University of Zürich), ‘The Smellscapes of Early Modern Travel Writing’

11:30-12:00    Coffee

12:00-13:00    Health/The Body

Nir Eydan (Johns Hopkins University), ‘Sensory Encounters at the Early Modern Francophone Spa Town’

Kate Luce Mulry and Emma Barnes (California State University, Bakersfield), ‘“Sweet and Stinking Scents”: A Sensory History of Reproduction in the Early Modern English Atlantic’

13:00-14:00    Lunch

14:00-15:30    Travels/Encounters

Jack Dykstra-McCarthy (University of Cambridge), ‘The Power of the Senses in Late-Seventeenth-Century English Encounters with the Ottoman Empire’

Salih Demirtas (Istanbul Technical University), ‘Sensory Experiences of Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Istanbul’

Serra Inan (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich), ‘Between Hospitality and Hostility: Sensory Experiences in the Ottoman Diplomatic Court Protocol during the 17th century’

15:30-16:00    Coffee

16:00-17:30    Making/Reconstruction

Traci Picard (Brown University), ‘Make According to Art: Exploring the Senses in Early Modern Recipe Books’

Christine Walker (Yale-NUS College), ‘Tasting the Caribbean in the Colonial North’

Maria Mendonça (Kenyon College) and Laudan Nooshin (City, University of London), ‘Re-imagining Marginalised Histories: Sounding Domestic Spaces at Ham House’

Conference Dinner, Kellogg College


9 June

10:00-11:00    Imperialism/Power

Gabriela C. Rodríguez Lebrón (University of California at Berkeley), ‘“El bosque dividido en islas pocas, / fragante productor de aquel aroma”: Paganism as an Aroma from Western Antiquity Imagined in the Americas’

Alexandros Hatzikiriakos (I Tatti - The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies), ‘The Politics of Water: The Morosini Fountain and Venetian Propaganda in Early Modern Crete’

11:00-11:30     Coffee

11:30-13:00    Impairment/Deception

Barbara Kaminska (Sam Houston State University), ‘Deafness and Muteness in the Early Modern Art Theory’

Marie-Louise Leonard (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice), ‘Sensory Challenges in Early Modern Workspaces’

Joanne Allen (American University), ‘“They very often deceived the senses”: Pictorial Illusion and Haptic Proof in Italian Renaissance Intarsia Perspective Panels’

13:00-14:00    Lunch

14:00-15:30    Gender/Space

Maya Corry (Oxford Brookes University), ‘The Gender of Devotion’

Gillian Hurst (University of Bristol), ‘Clothing and the Senses: Materiality and Spirituality at Syon Abbey’

Julia Rombough (Acadia University), ‘Race, Gender, and Soundscapes in Florentine Institutions’

15:30-16:00    Coffee

16:00-17:30    Making/Materials

François Quiviger (Warburg Institute), ‘Bernard Palissy at the Balet Comique de la Royne (1581)’

Carlo Scapecchi (University of Edinburgh), ‘Re-creating Visual and Tactile Sensory Experiences: Weaving Eastern Mediterranean Carpets in Late Renaissance Florence (1581-1592)’

Moyun Zhou (The University of Hong Kong), ‘Encountering Bronze: The Church of St. Paul’s in the Fortified Macao’

Conference Ends (followed by drinks at a local pub)



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