A Sensory Education

The first book from the MCS project is now out ....  

In A Sensory Education Anna shows that our sensing is not innate or acquired, but in fact evolves through learning that is shaped by social and material relations. The chapters feature diverse sources of sensory education, including field manuals, mannequins, cookbooks and flavour charts. The examples range from medical training – drawing from fieldwork from the Making Clinical Sense project – to forest bathing and cooking classes. With hand-drawn illustrations and sensory lessons throughout, the book looks at the uncanny and taken-for-granted ways in which adults are trained to improve their senses. It may be of interest to those teaching courses related to everyday life, technologies and the senses or teachers looking for sensory exercises for their students; to students and scholars from across the social sciences, particularly of the senses and embodied expertise; to workshop organisers looking for creative ideas; and to anyone who takes a personal interest in learning sensory practices like cooking, knitting, bird watching, wine tasting and gardening, to name a few.

Thanks to funding from the European Research Council, the book is Open Access and you can download both the chapters and shorter sensory lessons for free from Routledge. The book is part of the Sensory Studies series edited by David Howes.

Find more at the publishers’ website, including a free PDF of the book: https://www.routledge.com/A-Sensory-Education/Harris/p/book/9781350056121

The book itself has links and connections to media content that you can find below. Enjoy!

Lesson 1: How to Make a Cyanometer and Other Lessons in Blue


  • Paint cards from a hardware store
  • Pens
  • Scissors
  • A compass
  • A sturdy piece of cardboard
  • Glue
  • White stickers
  • Blue-tack (or white-tack)
  • A music player to play Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.


  1. Put music on, suggested listening being Kind of Blue. In 1959, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis assembled his ideal sextet. Using simple musical scales, instead of the complex harmonic progressions of their contemporaries, they attempted, in five mesmeric tracks, to redefine an art form and capture the essence of all that was blue.
  2. Take a compass and draw two circles on the sturdy card, one of approximately 30cm diameter and the other of approximately 20cm diameter. If you don’t have a compass you can use dinner plates and saucers.
  3. Fold the 40 colour sample cards in half and glue halves together, then cut in half again.
  4. Put white stickers at the bottom of each colour card.
  5. Arrange the sample cards in a circle, using blue-tack to hold into place so that the correct spacing can be achieved (10 cards should fit in one quarter).
  6. Glue the cards in place.
  7. Number the white stickers from 1-40 with a marker.
  8. Take outside and measure the blueness of the sky. There is a blank page overleaf for you to record your observations.