University of South Carolina

Public invited to ‘sense’ history through lecture series

Carolina Distinguished Professor of History Dr. Mark Smith, a pioneer in looking at history through the five senses, is presenting a series of public lectures every Tuesday through March 6.

Titled “A History of the Senses: Global and Local Antiquity to Present,” the University of South Carolina lecture series will take place from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the S.C. Archives and History Center on Parklane Road. The cost is $50 for the series or $9 for individual lectures.

The series will examine the role and meaning of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste through human history.

Smith is well known for his book, “Sensing the Past: Seeing, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting and Touching in History,” which was published in 2008 by University of California Press. It was his awarding-winning first book, “Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery, and Freedom in the American South,” that challenged historians to look at past events in a new way. His provocative research created the new field of “sensory history.”

Using illuminating examples from antiquity to the 21st century, Smith says he will present and challenge lecture participants to look 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.

Smith will cover a fascinating and diverse array of subjects: visual culture in Victorian Britain and South America, sound in 19th-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 identity in modern China and early America.

The lecture series is sponsored by the university’s department of history. For more information, call 803-777-5195 or visit the Web site:

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 01/28/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 02/01/10 @ 10:48 AM | Permalink

'A History of the Senses'

  • What: Lecture series
  • Who: Carolina Distinguished Professor of History Dr. Mark Smith
  • When: 5:30 – 7 p.m. Tuesdays, through March 6
  • Where: S.C. Archives and History Center on Parklane Road

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