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Research Seminar - Seven Senses of the City: Sensory Literary Studies and the Aftertaste of Memory

Wednesday 19 February 2020, 1-2pm
Baines Wing 2.06

For this research seminar, in association with East Asian Studies at Leeds, we welcome Dr Astrid Møller-Olsen, lecturer in Chinese and Comparative Literature at Lund University, Sweden, to discuss her work on sensory literary studies and Chinese fiction.


In my research, I employ a framework of sensory literary studies to explore the connections between memory and materiality in contemporary Sinophone fiction from Taipei, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

I engage with themes of scented nostalgia, flavours in fiction, walking as method, literary cartography, the melody of language, gendered cityscapes, metafictional dreams and rhythmic senses of time to study how contemporary cities change the way we think about time, space and memory.

In this talk, I will introduce my ideas for sensory literary scholarship and present a few textual examples of what such a sensorially focused, thematical comparisons might bring to light. In particular, I will examine how memories taste and at how various (un)healthy appetites regulate recollection as a technology of the self in Dorothy Tse and Hon Lai Chu’s novel A Dictionary of Two Cities (雙城辭典) from 2012, in Ding, Liying’s novel The Woman in the Clock (时钟里的女人) from 2001 and in Chu, Tien-hsin’s novella The Old Capital (古都) from 1996.


Astrid Møller-Olsen has a doctoral degree in contemporary Chinese literature and is currently working as a lecturer at the Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University, Sweden. She has published on literary drinking cultures, allegorical cannibalism, fictional dictionaries and Daoist commensality in Chinese fiction. Current research focuses on theories of sensory literary studies and the spatiotemporal relation between cityscape and memory in contemporary urban Sinophone fiction.