Roundtable: Material Culture and the Senses

Katie  Carpenter's picture
October 18, 2017
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Archaeology, Architecture and Architectural History, Cultural History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Wednesday 18 October 2017


Senate House Room 102



Hannah Newton (Reading)

Hannah Platts (RHUL)

Hannah Thompson (RHUL)

William Tullett (KCL)


This round table will explore recent approaches to sensory experience and past material cultures. Bringing together four experts on ancient and modern periods, we will explore the methodological challenges involved in understanding how people saw, heard, tasted, smelt and felt about past material worlds.

Dr Hannah Newton is a social and cultural historian of early modern England, specialising in the histories of medicine, emotion, and childhood. Her PhD thesis formed the basis of a book, The Sick Child in Early Modern England, 1580-1720 (OUP, 2012), winner of the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health 2015 Book Prize. In 2011-2014, Hannah undertook a Wellcome Trust Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, and researched for her next monograph, Misery to Mirth: Recovery from Illness in Early Modern England (forthcoming with OUP). The aim of this book is to rebalance our overall picture of early modern health, which hitherto has focused almost exclusively on disease and death. Hannah is now based at the University of Reading, where she is a Wellcome Trust University Award Holder, undertaking a 5-year project on the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations of the early modern sick chamber. 

Dr Hannah Platts explores Roman domestic space and the ways in which Roman housing was employed in Roman society to construct  and understand ideas of personal and group belonging. As part of this, she is particularly interested in multisensory approaches with the Roman home both in antiquity but also in terms of immersive engagement with historic sites today. She is currently completing a monograph on Power and Multisensory space in the Roman house for publication with I.B. Tauris.

 Dr Hannah Thompson is a Reader in French Literature at Royal Holloway. She works at the intersection of French Studies and Critical Disability Studies. Her third monograph, Reviewing Blindness in French Fiction was published in Palgrave’s Literary Disability series in 2017 and she is the author of the popular Blind Spot blog (

Dr Will Tullett is a Past and Present Fellow at the Institute for Historical Research, London. He has published articles on scent and sociability, race and smell, and early modern perfume. He is currently finishing the manuscript for his first book, entitled A Social Sense: Smell in Eighteenth-Century England and beginning a new project on sound, community, and (early) modernity in eighteenth-century London.





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