OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Mark Smith

Portrait of Mark Smith
Image Credit: University of South Carolina

Mark Smith is Carolina Distinguished Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery, and Freedom in the American South (1997), winner of the OAH Avery O. Craven Award; Debating Slavery: Economy and Society in the Antebellum American South (1999); Listening to Nineteenth-Century America (2001); How Race Is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses (2008), a Choice outstanding academic title; Sensing the Past: Seeing, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting, and Touching in History (2008); and Camille, 1969: Histories of a Hurricane (2011). His most recent book is The Smell of Battle, The Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the American Civil War (2014). His edited books include The Old South, Hearing History: A Reader (2000), Stono: Documenting and Interpreting a Southern Slave Revolt (2006), Writing the American Past: U.S. History to 1877 (2009), and, with Robert Paquette, The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas (2010). He regularly reviews books for the Wall Street Journal. Smith is also the general editor of the Southern Classics Series (University of South Carolina Press), a coeditor of Studies in International Slavery (Liverpool University Press), a coeditor of Studies on the American South (Cambridge University Press), and general editor of the Studies in Sensory History (University of Illinois Press). He has lectured in Europe, and throughout the United States, Australia, and China.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

Historical accounts of major events have almost always relied upon what those who were there witnessed. Nowhere is this truer than in the nerve-shattering chaos of warfare, where sight seems to confer objective truth and acts as the basis of reconstruction. Based on his recent book, The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege, in this lecture Mark Smith considers how all five senses, including sight, shaped the experience of the Civil War, exploring its full sensory impact on everyone from the soldiers on the field to the civilians waiting at home.
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, experience, and understand? Exploring illuminating examples from antiquity to the twenty-first century, this lecture serves as an introduction to the emerging field of sensory history.

Civil War at 150 podcast conversation with Journal of American History executive editor Edward T. Linenthal