cover of book

Smell and History: A Reader
edited by Mark M. Smith
West Virginia University Press, 2019
Cloth: 978-1-946684-67-7 | eISBN: 978-1-946684-69-1 | Paper: 978-1-946684-68-4
Library of Congress Classification GT2847 +
Dewey Decimal Classification 612.86


Smell and History collects many of the most important recent essays on the history of scent, aromas, perfumes, and ways of smelling. With an introduction by Mark M. Smith—one of the leading social and cultural historians at work today and the preeminent champion in the United States of the emerging field of sensory history—the volume introduces to undergraduate and graduate students as well as to historians of all fields the richness, relevance, and insightfulness of the olfactory to historical study.

Ranging from antiquity to the present, these ten essays, most of them published since 2003, consider how olfaction and scent have shaped the history of medicine, gender, race-making, class formation, religion, urbanization, colonialism, capitalism, and industrialization; how habits and practices of smelling informed ideas about the Enlightenment, modernity, and memory; how smell shaped perceptions of progress and civilization; and how people throughout history have used smell as a way to organize categories and inform worldviews.

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