Colloque International

SENS ET SENTEURS - Université de Lille

(Littératures française et étrangère ; sciences de l’information et communication)
5-6 octobre 2018

Call for papers

Colloque international "SENS ET SENTEURS"

Interdisciplinary and international symposium in SHS

University of Lille, October 5 & 6, 2018



The sense of smell is certainly less developed in humans than sight or hearing, both of which enable us to orient ourselves in space. This is why the social sciences and humanities have been more inclined to study the other senses. Although it is more difficult to verbalize an emotion from a smell (Dubois, 2009), human beings are nonetheless able to perceive thousands of them and internalize them with a strong emotional charge (Le Guérer, 2002), with the understanding that the "olfactory discourse" also enables humans to express their relationship with respect to the world - adaptation or alienation – based upon a given communicative situation. Given the close link between the sense of smell and the brain, this discourse has a powerful influence on human behaviour (be it a question of food, sexuality or business, for example). Smells, good or bad, generate strong emotions and play an essential role in the construction of memory, especially in the case of remembrance such as Proust's Madeleine (in Du côté de chez Swann); a scent - like a flavour - is a reminiscent medium. 

The ALITHILA laboratory (French language and literature), the CECILLE laboratory (foreign languages and literatures), the GERiiCO laboratory (information sciences and communication), all three part of the University of Lille, are partnering with the CIMEOS laboratory (information sciences and communication) at the University of Bourgogne, to pursue this new field of research in the humanities and social sciences. They call on other researchers to share their interest in sensory meaning and the symbolism of communicative postures related to smell. Members of the research community in the humanities and social sciences are therefore invited to share their work on the olfactory experience by distinguishing the sensory domain (aesthesia) from the reflective sensitive domain (aesthetics), with an eye to reflecting on the meaning and symbolism of this experience (possibly resulting in a kind of "olfactory ethics"), in reference to the "trinity of the senses" of J.-J Boutaud (cf  Parizot, 2013). The interdisciplinary challenge, at the crossroads of literary and info-communication approaches, is to decipher a "rhetoric of scents" (Perrouty, 2006). 

Smells not only structure our relationship to time and space, but also fix our social representations and evoke shared emotions. The point of this symposium is to show that the olfactory sense, forgotten by the philosophical tradition  ̶  except for Condillac and Nietzsche (Jaquet, 2010)  ̶  is fundamental to our construction of meaning, and to show that smell is an inevitable social marker. This implies certain problems of expression: how can one express the unspeakable smell? What are the words and linguistic expressions characteristic of the olfactory experience? To what extent does smell structure the imagination or inspire poetics? There are also a number of communication-related problems: how can one exchange and document information from the olfactory point of view? What role can a smell play in cultural mediation processes? How, with the help of smells, can one be persuasive, and even to encourage us buy via advertising in a commercial context? What are the social rites related to smell?

The "Sens et Senteurs" symposium will be held on Friday 5 October and Saturday 6 October at the ‘Pont de Bois’ campus of the University of Lille (registration fee: 50 euros for full-time professors and researchers, 40 euros for doctoral students). Proposal abstracts in french or english, with a brief biographical sketch, should be sent to and before 15 June 2018. Following a double-blind review of the proposals, the scientific committee will inform participants of their acceptance no later than 14 July 2018.

Web site :

Main axis :

Axis 1 : Smell as a medium of social communication

Axis 2 : olfactory lyricism

Axis 3 : Smells, representations and the introduction of plots


Scientific committee :

Michèle Aquien (Paris)

Jean-Jacques Boutaud (Dijon)
Patrice de la Broise (Lille)

Anne Parizot (Besançon)
Cécile Tardy (Lille)

Paul-Henri Giraud (Lille)
Paul Rasse (Nice)
Annick Le Guérer (Paris)

Yves Baudelle (Lille)

Joël Candau (Nice)
Jérôme Hennebert (Lille)

Andrée Lerousseau (Lille)

Constantin Bobas (Lille)

Audrey Moutat (Limoges)


Managing committee :

Jérôme Hennebert (ALITHILA, Lille)

Valentine Coppin (ALITHILA, Lille)

Jessica Kounda (ALITHILA, Lille)

Andrée Lerousseau (CECILLE, Lille)

Patrice de la Broise (GERIICO, Lille)


Bibliographical suggestions :

Barbet Virginie, Le Marketing olfactif, Paris, Presses du management, 1999
Boutaud Jean-Jacques, Sémiotique et Communication. Du signe au sens, Paris, L’Harmattan, 1998
Candau Joël, Mémoire et expériences olfactives, Paris, PUF, 2000
Corbin Alain, Le Miasme et la jonquille : l’odorat et l’imaginaire social XVIIIe-XIXe siècles, Paris, Flammarion, 2008
Digonnet Rémi, Métaphore et olfaction : une approche cognitive, Paris, ‘Bibliothèque de grammaire et de linguistique’, Honoré Champion, 2016.
Dubois Danièle, Le sentir et le dire, concepts et méthodes en psychologie et linguistique cognitives, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2009
Eliena Jean-Claude, Le Parfum, PUF, coll. « que sais-je ? », 2015
Jaquet Chantal dir., L’Art olfactif contemporain, Paris, Garnier, 2015
Jaquet Chantal, Philosophie de l’odorat, Paris, PUF, 2010.
Julien Mariette, L’Image publicitaire des parfums, Paris, L’Harmattan, 1997
Lardellier Pascal dir. , À fleur de peau : corps, odeurs, parfums, Paris, Belin, 2003
Le Guérer Annick, Les Pouvoirs de l’odeur, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2002
Parizot Anne, « Ici, tout est… Sens : vers un partage des sens en harmonie », Revue française des sciences de l’information et de la communication [Online], 3 | 2013, Online since 01 August 2013, connection on 19 March 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/rfsic.570
Perrouty-Perret Stéphanie, Rhétoriques des senteurs, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2006
Revue Autrement, série mutations, « Odeurs : l’essence d’un sens », 1987, n°92
Revue Langage : « Pour une linguistique des odeurs » 2011, n°181
Revue Littérature, « Sociabilités du parfum », 2017 /1, n°185.
Revue Moebius, « Le Parfum », 2013, n° 137
Revue Terrain, « Les odeurs », 2006, n°47