The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England by Holly Dugan (review)

The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England by Holly Dugan (review) Reviews 235 Dugan, Holly, The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011; hardback; pp. xi, 259; 15 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. US$65.00; ISBN 9781421402345. According to Holly Dugan, early modern England is an `undiscovered country in the history of olfaction' (p. 3). Despite a surge of interest in how pre-modern people sensed their worlds, how a basic physiological capacity is shaped by any culture's understanding of perception, its preferential valuation of the five senses and their conditioning, to say nothing for the array of stimuli found within a particular environment, smell remains understudied because it is evanescent. Given the prevailing assumption that Tudor­Stuart England's panoply of smells must, all the same, have been singularly noisome, Dugan focuses on `perfume', the production and consumption of artificial scents. She traces why these scents functioned as socio-cultural cues and how they were invested with meaning by poetry, drama, and literature. The first two chapters examine scents as markers of communion or command. In sixteenth-century England, the burning of frankincense was intended literally to inspire devotion. To inhale was to approach the divine and, at the same time, to purge minds of earthly http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Parergon Australian & New Zealand Association of Medieval & Early Modern Studies, Inc. (ANAZAMEMS, Inc.)

The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England by Holly Dugan (review)

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Reviews 235 Dugan, Holly, The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011; hardback; pp. xi, 259; 15 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. US$65.00; ISBN 9781421402345. According to Holly Dugan, early modern England is an `undiscovered country in the history of olfaction' (p. 3). Despite a surge of interest in how pre-modern people sensed their worlds, how a basic physiological capacity is shaped by any culture's understanding of perception, its preferential valuation of the five senses and their conditioning, to say nothing for the array of stimuli found within a particular environment, smell remains understudied because it is evanescent. Given the prevailing assumption that Tudor­Stuart England's panoply of smells must, all the same, have been singularly noisome, Dugan focuses on `perfume', the production and consumption of artificial scents. She traces why these scents functioned as socio-cultural cues and how they were invested with meaning by poetry, drama, and literature. The first two chapters examine scents as markers of communion or command. In sixteenth-century England, the burning of frankincense was intended literally to inspire devotion. To inhale was to approach the divine and, at the same time, to purge minds of earthly

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ParergonAustralian & New Zealand Association of Medieval & Early Modern Studies, Inc. (ANAZAMEMS, Inc.)

Published: Feb 14, 2012

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