“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

Suzanne Whitby / Sensory researcher

senstories is the research website of Suzanne Whitby, a sensory scholar, Classicist and storyteller who is exploring what happens when heritage and historical spaces intersect with stories and the senses. She is a PhD candidate at VU Amsterdam. At the moment, she is researching how senstories affect environmentally responsible thinking (or that’s the plan!)

She uses this little corner of the world wide web to capture curious sensory stories that capture her interest; muse about topics like heritage vs history, the ethics of folktales, and the senses; and share interesting research from other clever people in the sensory studies space. Expect weird flights of fancy and sensory diversions from time to time…

The journey to interdisciplinary heritage studies

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.