Coming to Our Senses: The World of Perfume

Wednesday, November 16, 2:00–3:30 P.M. | Forum of Civics Building, 2503 Westheimer at Kirby Drive. Limited enrollment

Smell is thought to be our oldest sense.  While it’s not as dominant today as sight and touch, it is still our most evocative sense: olfactory sensors connect to the part of our brain that governs emotions and emotional memory.  When we encounter a particular fragrance, it not only stimulates our sense of smell but also engages our memory of certain experiences and the emotions attached to them.  Humans recall scents considerably longer and with greater accuracy than they do visual images, and the smell of a particular perfume can instantly and vividly remind us of someone from our past.

In an interactive presentation, Alyssa Harad, author of the memoir Coming To My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride, will introduce participants to the history of perfume, the perfume industry, the range of scents used, and how perfume is made. She will also explore scent's link to memory, why an individual might select a particular perfume, feminism vs. femininity, the pleasure to be found in perfume, and helpful tips to know before you embark on buying perfume.

Alyssa Harad is a writer based in Austin, Texas. In addition to being a perfume expert and collector, she has worked as a cook, journalist, and creative arts facilitator at a private psychiatric hospital and has collaborated with therapists and others to work with girls and women, particularly survivors of sexual abuse and trauma.



Registration for fall 2018 is ongoing. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


If you are interested in traveling with the Houston Seminar to Natchez October 26-29, 2019 you may access the itinerary, trip cost, and registration documents here.

If you are interested in traveling to Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy. 


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern on Wednesday, November 14 is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. A second session has been added and will meet Monday, November 12 from 2:00-3:30 P.M. Registrations are being accepted for November 12. You may register online, or by phone.


Who Gets to Vote: Challenges for the 2020 Elections?
Speaker: Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Rights Project
Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Location to be announced


Register today!


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.