In this book, Mark M. Smith, a history professor specialising in sensory history, compiled ten recent essays exploring the diverse ways in which smells have shaped humans’ experience, beliefs and practices. Opening with a discussion of the foundational work of Alain Corbin and the rise of modern sensibility, the collection then takes the reader from the making of Christianity to the stench of ancient Rome, from the discovery of North America to Victorian England, from the politicisation of smells in racist discourses to enquiries in the realm of art and aesthetics.
Although it fails to address non-Western perspectives, Smell and History is a relatively comprehensive and easy introduction for anyone who is curious about the subject – but not curious enough to read a dozen books from cover to cover!
Smell and History: A Reader – Mark M. Smith (ed.), Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2019, 264 pages, $26.99
This review has been published in Nez, the olfactory magazine – #08 – Addictive Substances. This issue is available on www.nez-editions.us for North America and on the Auparfum Ship for other countries.