Sensory Historian to Deliver Lamar Lecture Series on Southern History


MACON — Noted historian and author Dr. Mark Smith will present Mercer’s 2009 Lamar Memorial Lectures on Oct. 19-20. Dr. Smith will present three lectures around the theme “Histories of a Hurricane: Camille, 1969.” All lectures will be held in the Medical School Auditorium and are free and open to the public.

At 10 a.m. on Oct. 19, Dr. Smith will give a lecture, titled “The Sensory History of Hurricane Camille.” He will give two evening presentations – “Desegregating Camille: Civil Rights, Disaster Rights” and “The Political Economy of Disaster Recovery” – on Oct. 19 and 20.  Both lectures will begin at 7:30 p.m.

In its 52 years, the Lamar Lecture Series has become one of the most prominent lecture series on Southern culture and history, and has included presentations by renowned historians, sociologists and literary scholars.

“The Lamar Memorial Lectures Committee is thrilled to bring Dr. Smith to campus.  He engages in groundbreaking scholarship that encourages his readers to reconsider fundamentally what they think they know about the past,” said Dr. Sarah Gardner, associate professor and chair of the history department. “The lectures he will deliver at Mercer promise to be innovative, provocative and important. His work represents the best in the field.”

Dr. Smith is Carolina Distinguished Professor of History at the University of South Carolina, and works in the field of “sensory history,” as he puts it, an “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.” 

Dr. Smith is author of the award-winning book, Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery, and Freedom in the American South, as well as several other books, including Debating Slavery: Economy and Society in the Antebellum American South; Listening to Nineteenth-Century America; How Race Is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses, and Sensing the Past: Seeing, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting, and Touching in History

He is also the editor of the books The Old South, Hearing History: A Reader; Stono: Documenting and Interpreting a Southern Slave Revolt and Writing the American Past.

About the Lamar Lecture Series
Made possible by the bequest of the late Eugenia Dorothy Blount Lamar, began in 1957.  The series promotes the permanent preservation of Southern culture, history and literature.  Given each fall, it is recognized as the most important lecture series on Southern history and literature in the United States.  Speakers have included nationally and internationally known scholars, such as Cleanth Brooks, James C. Cobb and Eugene Genovese.  All lectures are original and are published as books following the lectures.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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