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Delight & Disgust

Are you nauseated by the jaw-clenching squeak of polystyrene? Do you savour the dense, mole-like surface of silk velvet? Why do some materials delight, whilst others disgust? And to what extent are these strong visceral reactions individual, culturally-specific or universal?

This selection of materials was collected as part a Wellcome Trust fellowship project led by our librarian, Sarah Wilkes. Her research focussed on the emotive, affective and sensory properties of materials used in healthcare products and environments. As part of this project, she curated a large-scale public event called Delight & Disgust: an extravaganza of the revolting and sublime that encouraged visitors to take part in hands-on activities like chocolate tasting, and coprolite (fossilised faeces) polishing. It also showcased an array of potentially delightful and disgusting materials to prompt visitors to interrogate why some materials elicit such strong and emotional reactions.

Read more about this research and public event.