“I’m a sensory scholar, interested in how multi-sensory oral storytelling can enhance our appreciation of and engagement with heritage and history.”
– Suzanne Whitby
senstories is the research website of Suzanne Whitby, a sensory scholar and classicist who is exploring what happens when heritage and historical spaces intersect with stories and the senses.
Suzanne came to sensory studies whilst developing a research question for her Classics dissertation. An amateur “nose” with an interest in scent, aromatherapy and perfume-making, she started asking herself what the ancient world smelled like, and whether she could model smells using 3D scratch-‘n-sniff models, abstract representations, and maps. This led her to the vibrant world of sensory studies and she completed her MA in 2021, writing about lived olfactory experiences in Pompeii in 79 CE.
Her multi-sensory journey led her to the work of David Howes, Constance Classen, Eleanor Betts, and a plethora of others. Far from having had a brilliant, never-before-thought-of idea, she discovered that her ideas of walking and modelling smells were not original in the least! In 1790, Jean-Noël Hallé went out for a scent walk on the banks of the Seine and nearly didn’t make it back. J. Douglas Porteous and more recently, Victoria Henshaw and Kate McLean have been inspiring role models in the urban sensescape, and specifically “scentscape”, arena.
Suzanne is currently working on a proposal for a PhD that will allow her to explore the senses, the past, and the present in more detail.