Based on two pre-circulated readings—one published, the other as yet unpublished—this seminar introduces graduate students to the underdeveloped but important connection between sensory history and natural disasters. The seminar focuses on tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes in the Atlantic World during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It explores how such disasters were processed and experienced sensorially and how they functioned to destabilize established sensory hierarchies. The importance of context is stressed and the seminar examines ways in which the sensory history of natural disasters grants us access to questions not only of immediate experience but also questions concerning diplomacy and politics.
About the speaker
Mark M. Smith, Carolina Distinguished Professor of History, University of South Carolina is the most prominent historian of the senses in the United States. He is the author of Listening to Nineteenth Century America (2001), How Race is Made: Slavery, Segregation and the Senses (2006), Sensing the Past (2007) and, most recently, The Smell of Battle, The Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War (2014, 2017). He is also the co-author of Hurrican Katrina and the Forgotten Coast of Mississippi (2014).
This event is co-sponsored by the Centre for Sensory Studies and the Department of History.