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Smelling Cities

Melanie Kiechle (Virginia Tech)

In 19th century American cities, the smell of rapid industrial growth was overwhelming. This was particularly concerning, because at the time, people thought smells actually caused disease. Melanie Kiechle tells us about the official smell committees that were created to track down offensive odors and the lengths cities went to in order to cover those smells up.

17 mins

Hearing Middle English

Adin Lears (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Buried in a folio of a 15th century monk’s writing is a poem about the absolutely annoying noise of blacksmiths–not just the pounding of their hammers, but the gnaw and gnash of their voices. Adin Lears explores the noises of early English voices and writing.

11 mins

Seeing Light and Shadows

Francesca Fiorani (University of Virginia)

Leonardo DaVinci is often thought of as a painter who later became a scientist. But Francesca Fiorani argues that DaVinci was obsessed from his artistic beginning with the science of sight. Indeed, his paintings were a kind of lab experiment in light, shadow, and perception.

13 mins

Tasting Stories

Kara Keeling and Scott Pollard (Christopher Newport University)

We can learn a lot about cultures through their food. Kara Keeling and Scott Pollard have spent decades exploring the significance of food in children’s literature, from Winnie the Pooh’s honey pot to Ojibwe rice gathering in Louise Erdrich’s The Birchbark House.

11 mins

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