Do we rely on different senses now than the ones we relied on in the past? How have our senses affected history? How have the senses themselves changed? What role have the senses played in the ways we discriminate? Exploring illuminating examples from antiquity to the twenty-first century, this lively, concise introduction to the essential, emerging field of sensory history presents a new way of looking at the past that takes the everyday, the average, and the banal as seriously as it takes the history of elites, the intellect, and the exceptional. Considering each of the five senses, Mark M. Smith explores diverse subjects: visual culture in Victorian Britain and South America, sound in nineteenth-century Australia and France, gender politics and touch in early modern Europe and in native America, "race" and olfaction in the United States and scent in ancient Christianity, and the role of taste in shaping national identity in modern China and early America.
Mark M. Smith, Carolina Distinguished Professor of History at the University of South Carolina, is the author of several books including How Race is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses and Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery, and Freedom in the American South, co-winner of the Organization of American Historians' Avery O. Craven Award and the South Carolina Historical Society's Book of the Year.