The annual theme of the research fellowships for 2021-2022 is "Pleasure." Professor Feng's project under the theme is titled "Concocting the 'Heavenly Scent': A Cultural History of Aromatics in late Medieval China." A summary of the project, courtesy of the JHI website, is below:
"Compared to other senses, the sense of smell is particularly challenging to capture or represent linguistically, and yet is undeniably powerful in its own way. This project aims to enhance our understanding of scent and its conferring of pleasure, by considering scents that were products of design, concoction, and curation. Focusing on late medieval China (ninth to twelfth centuries), I investigate how aromatics (xiang)—historically tied to both pleasure and health—were created and deployed as part of socially rooted sensory experiences. I am especially interested in how such experiences involving aromatics may have taken into account their volatile mobility and transportive potential: scents could waft across visual and physical barriers, transect hierarchies, and enable traveling between forms of existence such as the mundane and celestial/spectral."
We wish Professor Feng all the best as she embarks on a new scholarly journey!