This section introduces the prospects of an emerging sensory history of the Civil War era and focuses specifically on what attention to smells, sounds, tastes, feeling, and sight can reveal about captivity experiences. Previous scholarship has focused on death rates, government policy, and accusations of intentional mistreatment. Scholarly treatment of these important topics tends to overlook the human experience of the prison experience. The methodology of sensory history is situated to individualize and humanize the trauma of captivity as accessible social and cultural history. The introduction also provides an overview of the decentralized prison archive that serves as the evidentiary base for the book.
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