Principal Research Interest(s): 19th and 20th century science, particularly for farm and garden; public health; popular taste, primarily US
Jane S. Smith (Ph.D., Yale) specializes in 19th and 20th century fiction. She has taught at Northwestern in both the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Feinberg School of Medicine on topics ranging from modern fiction to the history of public health.
In Praise of Chickens, an illustrated compendium of scientific, practical, and literary poultry lore from Aristotle to Mark Twain, will be published by Lyons Press in December 2011. The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants (Penguin Press, 2009), received the 2010 Caroline Bancroft Prize for Best Book in Western American History. Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine (William Morrow, Anchor: 1990), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Elsie de Wolfe: A Life in the High Style (Atheneum, 1982) was nominated for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award and remains the definitive biography of the pioneer decorator who transformed “good taste” from an attitude into an industry. Fool’s Gold (Zoland, 2000) received the Adult Fiction Award from the Society of Midland Authors. She is also the author of Jacoby’s First Case and Nightcap (fiction) and co-author of A Paralyzing Fear: The Triumph Over Polio in America; the companion book to the documentary film of the same name that received both an Emmy award for Best Research in a News or Documentary Program and the Eric Barknouw Prize from the Organization of American Historians.