Susan Barbour’s recent work focuses on smell and its effect on the verbal imagination. Drawing on her background as a poet, scholar, and sommelier, she is writing a hybrid book of memoir and theory that explores the relation between text and nose. As part of her research for this project, she also conducts wine-tastings and workshops in the psychological reactions to human body odor.
Barbour’s interest in the body’s traces extends to her visual art practice as well. Her poetry book manuscript, NUDE UNTANGLING HER HAIR, recounts her experience of learning to draw while working as an artist's model and incorporates line drawings of female nudes she makes using her own hair. She has exhibited her artwork in galleries in Los Angeles and New York and has shows forthcoming in the U.K.
Barbour earned a B.A. in Literature from Dartmouth, an M.A. in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, and a D.Phil. in English Literature from Oxford, where she was a Clarendon Scholar. She also holds the Level 4 Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is a certified French Wine Scholar. Her poetry and essays have appeared in literary magazines including Five Dials, The Paris Review, Catapult,The Los Angeles Review of Books, and Oxford Poetry, and her scholarship has been published in academic journals such as Textual Practice, Transatlantica, and The Oxford Review of English Studies. She has been the recipient of fellowships from The James B. Reynolds Foundation, The Rothermere American Studies Institute, The Huntington Library, The Bogliasco Foundation, The Beinecke Library at Yale, The Jentel Artist Residency, The Dora Maar House/Brown Foundation, and The Institute for Art and Olfaction. She has lectured at Johns Hopkins, École Polytechnique, and Merton College, Oxford and also held research positions at Columbia University and Caltech.