Associate Professor Sheryl Boyle earns PhD

June 29 2021

Associate Professor Sheryl Boyle has received her PhD in Humanities from Concordia University in Montreal working under supervisors David Howes (Sensory Studies), Cynthia Hammond (Architecture/Art History), and Rod Phillips (History of Food/Drink).

She successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Fragrant Walls and the Table of Delight: Sensory (re)construction as a way of knowing, the case of Thornbury Castle 1508-21” in November 2020, completing revisions over the winter semester and graduating June 2021.

The research investigates the important contributions of the non-visual senses in acts of making and knowing. Her work explored the intersections of artisanal knowledge by cooks, carpenters, masons, and others involved in the materiality of the 16th century and its relationship to architecture.

The research is anchored by Thornbury Castle in England, an incomplete construction site inhabited during the 13 years of its construction by a household of over 200, including family, builders, cooks, gardeners, guests, and staff.

By examining the setting, objects, and practices of the place, Boyle reveals how the unique porosity of the architecture created a multi-sensorial atmosphere that allowed various craftspeople and activities and to intersect. She explores this confluence in a series of built projects captured in fragrant walls and a table of delight.

Building upon the shared use of the mortar and pestle across disciplines, genders, and classes, Boyle’s projects employ a material hermeneutics to bridge her historic reconstruction exercises to a contemporary, local, and personal material narrative.

As a research-creation PhD, Boyle’s work produced built work in addition to a written dissertation. With this experience, she hopes to be able to make a significant contribution to the research-creation dimensions of Carleton’s PhD in Architecture program and supervise our PhD students in the years ahead.

Boyle supervises immersive materials research in concrete, cellulose, building lime, pigments and construction systems (both contemporary and historic) through teaching and research. She is the director of the CSALT materials research lab at Carleton and a member of the Concordia Centre for Sensory Studies where her research in sensory (re)construction and experiential learning explore ways of knowing architecture.