By and About Things (book manuscript)
This is a book about objects, the narrative tension generated when they become things, and how select Madrid and Barcelona-based authors and artists from the pre-Civil War era used them in especially innovative ways. From “it-narratives” and their non-human protagonists, through stories of material acquisition and loss, to the photographic thing and the object mania inherent in avant-garde print culture and advertising, this book draws on ground-breaking examples from a rich period of both Castilian and Catalan cultural production. I argue that these artists’ unique engagements with the narrative possibilities of materiality not only provide new perspectives on the expression of the modern experience in the Spanish state, but also offer insights into the limits of aesthetic response to phenomena, and how objects—and their thingness—posit and prefigure new modes of being in the early twentieth century.
The Scent of Spain: Fragrance, Odour and Culture (research project)
This is an ongoing research project drawing on primary source archival and experiential research for a proposed monograph entitled The Scent of Spain: Fragrance, Odor and Culture. Revolving around odorants of different types, this will be the first cultural analysis of fragrances and scents in modern Spain and how they may be interpreted as part of a broader notion of olfactory community. Through examinations of key fragrance notes and accords, both fine and functional, as well as hedonic scents, I argue that smell has been an important, yet overlooked, component of late Spanish modernity. The Scent of Spain grows out of my interest in space, hospitality and food studies – specifically, the elusive concept of terroir: the so called “taste of place.” As anyone who has eaten a normally delicious meal with a bad cold knows, taste and smell are intimately connected. Yet, while taste in its many forms has grown steadily as a subject of critical interest in the humanities, smell has remained comparatively overlooked – and especially so as an interpretative tool.