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Department of History


Mark M. Smith

Title: Carolina Distinguished Professor of History
Department: History
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-6362
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]


Teaches American social and cultural history, with emphasis on the American South and sensory history.

A Carolina Distinguished Professor, Mark Smith teaches the introductory undergraduate survey to US history (to 1865), undergraduate courses on the Old South, and graduate courses on the U.S. nineteenth-century.

He is author of Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery, and Freedom in the American South (winner of the Organization of American Historians' 1997 Avery O. Craven Award and South Carolina Historical Society's Book of the Year); Debating Slavery: Economy and Society in the Antebellum American South, published by Cambridge University Press in 1998; Listening to Nineteenth-Century America (University of North Carolina Press, 2001), How Race Is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses (University of North Carolina Press, 2006; a 2007 Choice Outstanding Academic Title), Sensing the Past: Seeing, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting, and Touching in History (University of California Press, 2008), Camille, 1969: Histories of a Hurricane (University of Georgia Press, 2011), and Hurricane Katrina and the Forgotten Coast of Mississippi (Cambridge University Press, 2014), which he co-authored with Susan Cutter, Christopher T. Emrich, Jerry T. Mitchell, Walter W. Piegorsch, and Lynn Weber. His edited books include The Old South (Blackwell, 2000), Hearing History: A Reader (University of Georgia Press, 2004), Stono: Documenting and Interpreting a Southern Slave Revolt (University of South Carolina Press, 2006), Writing the American Past (Wiley, 2008), and, with Robert Paquette, The Handbook of Slavery in the Americas (Oxford University Press, 2010).

He has published articles in the American Historical Review, Past and Present, the William and Mary Quarterly, the Journal of Southern History, the Journal of Social History, The Chronicle Review (Chronicle of Higher Education), the Journal of American History, the Journal of The Historical Society, Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies, and the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies. He serves or has served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Southern History, the Journal of Social History, The Southern Quarterly, The Senses and Society, Patterns of Prejudice, Sound Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Journal of American History.

Professor Smith has lectured in Europe, throughout the United States, Australia, and China. His work has been translated into Chinese and Korean and has been reviewed and featured in the New York Times, the London Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Brain, and Science. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the British Academy and he has presented his work to the National Academy of Science, served as the William Hewit Distinguished Professor at the University of Northern Colorado, as a Lamar Lecturer, as a Guest Editor for a forum on the history of the senses for the Journal of American History, and as the General Editor of the four-volume Slavery in North America: from the Colonial Period to Emancipation (Pickering & Chatto, 2008). Professor Smith is also the General Editor of the Southern Classics Series (University of South Carolina Press), co-editor of Liverpool University's Studies in International Slavery, co-editor of Cambridge University Press’ series, Studies on the American South, and General Editor of the University of Illinois Press’ Studies in Sensory History. He is a former of winner of USC’s Michael Mungo Graduate Teaching Award, a former president of The Historical Society, and a Founding Member of the European Sound Studies Association.

He has had the honor of directing many PhD dissertations and his former students teach and conduct research at, among other institutions, the University of Warwick (UK), Iowa State University, the University of North Carolina, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Wyoming, the University of New Mexico, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, and the Office of the Historian, US Department of State. His former students have published their revised dissertations with the University of Georgia Press, the Johns Hopkins University Press, and Cambridge University Press.

Professor Smith regularly reviews books for The Wall Street Journal and also writes pieces on Mixed Martial Arts for His book, The Smells of Battle, The Tastes of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War, was published by Oxford University Press in 2014 and was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, and Slate. It  was named a Foreign Affairs Best Book of 2014.


In addition to directing several PhD dissertations, I'm knee-deep in the "field" of sensory history-a vibrant area of historical inquiry dedicated to examining the roles played by olfaction, hearing, touch, and taste (as well as vision) in shaping the past. My concern is to help restore the full sensory texture of history and examine what the senses in addition to seeing might be able to tell us about historical experience and causation.

I am currently working on three projects, one involving Reconstruction and foreign affairs; one on the future of Sensory History; and another on the history of Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.