BA, 1996, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA; MA, 1999, PhD, 2006, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Experience at SAIC

Adam Mack joined SAIC's Liberal Arts Department in 2007. He is the author of Sensing Chicago: Noisemakers, Strikebreakers, and Muckrakers (University of Illinois Press, 2015). The first multisensory history of the Windy City, Sensing Chicago traces how the urban middle classes indexed the crises of the turn of the century—industrial pollution, adulterated food, fire, labor conflict, a thriving vice district—with all five senses. It argues that when Chicagoans linked the stench of slums with moral poverty, the cries of striking workers with political radicalism, and the racy thrills of the amusement park with lechery, they engaged in a larger discussion about threats to middle-class notions of progress and the contours of social class itself. Sensing Chicago takes readers on an odiferous, noisy, and occasionally disgusting journey through Chicago's malodorous river; the searing heat of its Great Fire of 1871; the roar of the Great Railroad and Pullman strikes; the kinetic rush of the White City Amusement Park; and the repellent tastes of Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle (1906).

Adam is currently working on a sensorial history of southern California in the 1950s. This book project dovetails with his earlier work on the senses and suburban consumer culture, including "Speaking of Tomatoes: Supermarkets, the Senses, and Sexual Fantasy in Modern America", Journal of Social History (Summer 2010); "The Politics of Good Taste: Whole Foods Markets and Sensory Design," The Senses & Society (March 2012); "The Senses in the Marketplace: Commercial Aesthetics for a Suburban Age," in A Cultural History of the Senses in the Modern Age, ed. David Howes (London: Bloomsbury, 2014).

Personal Statement

Adam's general research and teaching interests include twentieth-century U.S. history; American consumer society; sensory perception in historical perspective; urban and cultural history. His courses include Sensory Perception in Historical Perspective; The Supermarket: A Social and Cultural History; Making the Second City: The Rise of Modern Chicago; Modern American Cultural History; The United States Since 1945.


Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.