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The Smell of Risk

November 17, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Hsuan L. Hsu, Professor of English at UC Davis, considers histories of smell, olfactory aesthetics, and environmental injustice, in conversation with Emily Friedman, Associate Professor of English at Auburn, and artist Manon Bellet, alongside Bellet’s exhibition A Swallow Does Not Make a Summer.

Seating available at 6:15pm, discussion begins at 6:30pm. Arrive earlier to explore our galleries and enjoy cafe refreshment. Livestream will begin at 6:30pm on our YouTube and Facebook.

Free and open to the public.

Hsuan L. Hsu joined the UC Davis faculty in 2008. His interests include 19th and 20th-Century U.S. literature, Asian diasporic literature, race studies, cultural geography, sensory studies, and the environmental humanities. He is the author of Geography and the Production of Space in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Cambridge, 2010) and Sitting in Darkness: Mark Twain, Asia, and Comparative Racialization (NYU, 2015). His most recent book, The Smell of Risk: Atmospheric Disparities and the Olfactory Arts (NYU, 2020), considers olfactory aesthetics as a mode of engaging with environmental injustice in literature, art, memoir, and law. His recent courses have examined topics such as geographies of risk, transnational American literature, medical humanities, the aesthetics of atmosphere, the aesthetics of chemosensation, and race and realism.

Manon Bellet began field research in 2017 to extract scents from specific areas of the Mississippi Delta region affected by coastal erosion. She sampled natural flora and fauna, water and soil and sentimental objects of the people who lived there. Through her research and studio practice, Bellet creates a multisensory body of work that plays with what we see, hear, smell and feel. A Swallow Does Not Make a Summer is the second iteration in the Radical Naturalism series of exhibitions. Contemporary artists are invited as guest curators to work with Auburn University’s collections and present representations of the natural world. Alongside her pieces, Bellet selected prints by John James Audubon and Warrington Colescott to pair with specimens from Auburn’s Museum of Natural History.

Emily C. Friedman is a scholar of the long eighteenth century, using book history and digital practices in her classroom and in her research. She is particularly interested in recovering the lived experiences of readers and writers: from the ways they understood scent to the notebooks they used, to the effects of changing market pressures and technologies on the experience of literary exchange. She is now the director of, an aggregation site that peer-reviews and makes more discoverable digital projects of all sizes. She is the creator of Manuscript Fiction in Age of Print, a small-scale digital project that describes, transcribes, and encodes fiction that survives in manuscript from between 1750-1900. She is at work on the first monograph to emerge from the dataset, creating new ways of organizing, describing, and understanding these works.


November 17, 2022
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art
901 South College Street
Auburn, AL 36830 United States
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