Monday workshop
Monday, September 8, 2014 (All day)

337 Cohen Hall

Carsten Reinhardt, Chemical Heritage Foundation

"The Chemist's Nose: Toward a History of Smell in the 20th Century"

AbstractThe odor of things has always been crucial for their scientific, cultural, and social meaning, and in this perspective has been the theme of many works in cultural history. However, cultural historians and historians of science alike have argued that during the 19th century a radical shift took place in the perception of odor—in the laboratory, the boudoir, and the city streets. In this period, smell has been played down as a method leading to reliable knowledge. Moreover, it was condemned as a nuisance, and consequently was hidden in large parts of social life. For the moment staying neutral with respect to this statement of 'deodorization', I argue that during the 19th and 20th centuries the scientific concept of odor changed, linking olfactory materials and the sense of smell in new ways. Especially in chemistry, investigations into sensory perception and the science of olfactory substances were shaped together. In my talk, I want to throw light on some of the most popular concepts of olfaction from the late 1800s to the late 1900s. On this basis, I will discuss options and opportunities for interlacing studies on the material culture of the laboratory with a field that can be called the history of the science of material culture. 


**Following this workshop, there will be a "welcome back dinner" in the Hughes Lounge**