Sensory studies arises at the conjuncture (and within) the fields of anthropology • sociology • history • archeology • geography • communications • religion • philosophy • literature • art history • museology • film • mixed media • performance • phenomenology • disability • aesthetics • architecture • urbanism • design

Sensory Studies can also be divided along sensory lines into, for example, visual culture, auditory culture (or sound studies), smell culture, taste culture and the culture of touch, not to mention the sixth sense (however it might be defined)

Sensing Change: A Two-Day Conference

The Centre for Critical Theory, University of Nottingham, UK

Sensing Change: a two day conference

27-28 March 2013

Keynote speakers:

Prof. Nigel Thrift (University of Warwick)
Prof. Kathleen Stewart (University of Texas at Austin)

Our perception of change and of changing times is, irreducibly, sensory; we often
anticipate change wordlessly: with a sense of dread or excitement or world-weariness.
We may also register change belatedly, aligning our senses with events retroactively.
Social, political and cultural transitions thus communicate themselves as much
through dispersed sensory experiences as they do via messages and cognitive
processes. Such sensory experiences are diffuse and hard to attribute, constituting
intensities, moods, rhythms, atmospheres, stutterings, disruptions, banalities
and frustrations. We notice change, frequently, through subtle alterations to our
environments that escape straightforward rational apprehensions. Social, political
and cultural transformations, then, are felt as much as they are understood. This
conference will seek to investigate the question ‘what does it mean to live through
change?’ by foregrounding sensory approaches.

As pioneering studies in touch, smell, taste and sound, as well as vision, have made
clear, the senses play a vital role in shaping the way we interact with and attune
ourselves to cultural and social environments. Theories of sense experience have
long placed the human sensorium at the heart of the story of modernity. The idea
of sensory overload, bombardment and enervation has come to dominate accounts
of the changes brought about by the experience of modern times. Yet accounts that
differentiate the sensory experiences of modernity have been few and far between, at
least until recently. The notion of a homogenous sensorium bludgeoned by modernity
needs to be revisited, especially in the context of the changes now being wrought by
digital technologies. Equally, our understanding of the postmodern age of networks,
information economies and new media requires sensory analysis.

Sensing Change offers an opportunity to reconsider the role of the senses in the grand
narratives of modernity and postmodernity and to elevate sensory approaches in
investigating questions of social, political and cultural change. We encourage paper
proposals which foreground histories and theories of change in their examination of
sensory bodies and sensory environments. Papers are encouraged in, but certainly not
limited to, the following areas:
• sensory dimensions of political change (the sensory experience of revolution,
uprising and political struggle, or of changing political cultures)
• sensory experiences of war and conflict
• sensory change in urban environments (urbanisation, de-urbanisation,
regeneration, degeneration; sonic ecologies, techniques of illumination)
• sensing community (population displacement, diaspora, changing community

• sensory selfhoods (emotions, sexualities, embodiment, disability, sensory
enhancement and impairment)
• sensory discipline (training the senses, governance)
• sensory architecture (acoustics, ‘smart’ environments and haptic technologies)
• sensory marketing (neuro-aesthetics; bio-sensory mapping and data collection)
• sensory consumption (food, craft, music)
• sensing environmental change (landscape interventions, climate change)
• the changing sensory environments of work
• the changing sensory environments of home
• the changing sensory experience of leisure
• the relationship between technology and sensory change
• personal/embodied change as sensory experience (health, illness, wellbeing,
aging, growing)

We invite proposals for individual papers (duration: 20 minutes) as well as for panel
sessions of up to 3 papers. Please submit an abstract of up to 500 words, detailing
your project together with its title, your name, academic affiliation and contact details.

If you wish to propose a session, please provide a brief statement identifying how it
will address the conference theme, plus a list of speakers and paper abstracts.

The final deadline for proposals for sessions and papers is 3rd December 2012.

For any further details please contact the conference organizers

Dr James Mansell and Dr Tracey Potts at this address: