SENSING THE CITY: EXPERIENCE, EMOTION AND EXPLORATION, C.1600-2013
Urban History Group Conference
University of York, UK
4-5 April, 2013
Deadline: 28 September, 2012
The urban sensescape is an underdeveloped aspect of Urban History. This conference explores the ways in which people have developed relationships with, and to, the urban environment from early modern times to the present.
Recently, the ’emotive turn’ has sought to address the neglected yet important subjects of touch and smell in the city that Joseph Rykwert identified in his book _The Seduction of Place: The History and Future of Cities_[Ed. Vintage Press, 2002]. This conference seeks, therefore, to engage with the emotive turn to explore how people have, since the early modern times, explored and experienced the city through their senses. It also seeks to identify the types of strategies that condition the development of an urban sensescape.
‘Sensing the city’ is not just confined to the sights, sounds, smells, feel and taste of the city but is also concerned with the ways in which the urban landscape is managed to enhance or hinder our sensory experience: for example, how mental maps of the city were formed before physical maps were created or how circulation has been regulated by signage, improvement acts, public health interventions through to the contemporary usage of QR codes, sat-navs and app technology. The conference will also consider how people’s experiences of the city have been conditioned along class, gender and/or ethnic lines, how individuals and groups have developed their own sensory experiences of the city and how these experiences have changed over time. Finally, the conference will consider the emotional responses to the sensory experiences of place and how individuals and collectives react to a changing sensory environment.
Issues to be considered include:
– the development and regulation of an urban sensescape encompassing the visual, auditory, olfactory or tangible aspects;
– managing the sensory experience for personal or collective purposes;
– how technologies have enhanced or hindered the sensescape;
– environmental/public health aspects of the sensescape;
– conflicting urban sensescapes;
– representing the sensory experience through different forms such as media and visual arts;
– emotional reactions to sensory experiences;
– a sense of direction: navigating the city;
– the ways in which sensory experience informs place attachment, place identity and the sense of place.
The conference committee invites proposals for individual papers as well as for individual sessions of up to 3 papers. Sessions that seek to draw comparisons across one or more countries, or open up new vistas for
original research, are particularly encouraged.
Abstracts of up to 500 words, including a title, name, affiliation and contact details should be submitted to the conference organisers and should indicate clearly how the content of the paper addresses the conference
theme outlined above. Those wishing to propose sessions should provide a brief statement that identifies the ways in which the session will address the conference theme, a list of speakers and paper abstracts. The final
deadline for proposals for sessions and papers is 28 September 2012.
The conference will again host its new researchers’ forum. This is aimed primarily at those at an early stage in a research project who wish primarily to discuss ideas rather than present findings. Topics unrelated to the main conference theme are particularly welcome as short papers in this forum.
Bursaries. Students registered for a PhD can obtain a modest bursary to offset some of the expenses associated with attending the conference. Please send an e-mail application to Professor Richard Rodger at
Richard.Rodger@ed.ac.uk and also ask your PhD supervisor to send a message confirming your status as a registered PhD student. The Urban History Group would like to acknowledge the Economic History Society for its support for these bursaries.
For further details please contact the Conference Organisers:
Dr Rebecca Madgin,
Centre for Urban History,
University of Leicester,
3-5 Salisbury Road,
Leicester, LE1 7QR
t: +44 (0) 116 252 5068
Dr Shane Ewen
School of Cultural Studies and Humanities
Leeds Metropolitan University