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Public talk sniffs out the importance of smells and behaviour

Public talk sniffs out the importance of smells and behaviour

The University of Wolverhampton is sniffing out the importance of smells and behaviour -building on its research into what the Black Country smells like.

A free public talk on Olfactory Fictions: Smell, Culture and Literature in Modernity will be presented by Professor Sebastian Groes, School of Humanities, on Wednesday 14th November at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, starting at 5:30 pm.

The talk is being delivered on behalf of the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for Transnational and Transcultural Research and The Memory Network.  The talk is free and open to members of the public but booking is essential.

Sebastian said: “We live in a sanitised culture whereby the drive for hygiene – including the masking of smells and the artificial scenting of spaces and bodies – results in a loss of smell awareness.

“This is worrying. Our sense of smell is a key component in our behaviour and mental lives. Recent science has shown that there is a strong relationship between olfaction – our sense of smell - and depression.  Smell is also related to our stress levels.  Women feel calmer after being exposed to their male partner’s scent. Conversely, a stranger’s smell has the opposite effect, raising levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

“Writer Italo Calvino warned against the loss of smell, ‘the noseless man of the future” will lose emotions and have a reduced ability to make sense of life altogether. Olfactory Fictions offers literature as a critical perspective on the ways in which our changing sense of smell impacts on human experience and behaviour.” 

In partnership with Black Country Living Museum, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce the University of Wolverhampton has secured £2,000 funding to undertake pioneering research that explores past and present smells of the Black Country.

Members of the public can also book on to one of two community research events – entitled ‘Snidge Scrumpin’ which are being held at Black Country Living Museum (Wednesday 21st November) and Wolverhampton Art Gallery (Thursday 22nd November) as part of the Being Human Festival, the only national festival of the humanities in the UK.

Professor Groes is also delivering the same talk at the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR) on 1st November 2018.



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