Sensory History

Sensory History

by Mark M. Smith

Mark M. Smith is Carolina Distinguished Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of several books, including Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery, and Freedom in the American South, which was co-winner of the Organization of American Historians’ 1997 Avery O. Craven Award and the South Carolina Historical Society’s Book of the Year. His work on sensory history has been featured in the New York Times. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Berg, 2007
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-3500-4877-5 (online)

    978-1-8452-0414-3 (hardback)

    978-1-8452-0415-0 (paperback)
  • Edition:
    English edition
  • Place of Publication:
  • Published Online:
Sensory History
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Sensory History introduces a topic that is rapidly becoming of enormous interest to historians - incorporating the senses into our understanding of the past. The book defines “sensory history,” stresses the importance of historicizing the senses, and considers each sense chapter by chapter. The author concludes by pondering future directions of the field. Drawing on examples from across the globe throughout time, Sensory History includes examinations of visual culture in Victorian Britain and South America, of sound in 19th-century Australia and France, and of gender politics and touch in Early Modern Europe and among Native Americans. It also discusses “race” and olfaction in the United States, scent in ancient Christianity, and the role of taste in shaping national identity in modern China and Early America. By attending carefully to the social history of the senses, Sensory History also reconsiders the value of paradigmatic explanatory models linking print, vision and modernity, and evaluates their relevance to the study of sensory history. Sensory History will be a key text for an emerging field.