Jessica Riskin

Associate Professor, History of Science
jriskin@stanford.edu
Phone: 
723-9379

At Stanford Since

2001
Ph.D. - University of California at Berkeley 1995; B.A. - Harvard University 1988

Research Interests

Jessica Riskin received her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and taught at Iowa State University and at MIT before coming to Stanford. Her research interests include Enlightenment science, politics and culture and the history of scientific explanation. She is the author of Science in the Age of Sensibility: The Sentimental Empiricists of the French Enlightenment (University of Chicago Press, 2002), which won the American Historical Association's J. Russell Major Prize for best book in English on any aspect of French history, and the editor of Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life (University of Chicago Press, 2007). She is currently writing a book about how people began to understand living creatures as machines, beginning with Descartes and continuing through Darwin.  The book is under contract with Basic Books; its working title is Mind Out of Matter.

Courses Taught

  • IHUM 57: Humans and Machines
  • The Scientific Revolution
  • Science and Law in History
  • The Enlightenment
  • What is Life? The History of a Question
  • The History of the Senses
  • History of the Modern Fact
  • Minds and Worlds, from Aristotle to Newton to Einstein
  • Science and Culture Wars

Publications

Books

  • Science in the Age of Sensibility: The Sentimental Empiricists of the French Enlightenment (University of Chicago Press, 2002).
  • Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philsoophy of Artificial Life, Jessica Riskin, ed., (University of Chicago Press, 2007).
  • Mind out of Matter: The Animal-Machine from Descartes to Darwin. Work in progress under contract with Basic Books.

Articles

  • “Amusing Physics.”  In Joyce E. Chaplin, ed., Harvard Library Bulletin 2007, special catalog issue on Benjamin Franklin. [Reprinted in Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, ed., Science and Spectacle in the European Enlightenment (Ashgate, forthcoming 2007).]
  • “The Defecating Duck; or, The Ambiguous Origins of Artificial Life.”  In Critical Inquiry Summer 2003, Vol. 29, No. 4: 599-633.  [Reprinted in Bill Brown, ed., Things (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 99-133.]
  • “Eighteenth Century Wetware.” In Representations, Summer 2003, No.83: 97-125. [Reprinted in Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and William Newman, eds., The Artificial and the Natural: An Evolving Polarity (MIT Press, forthcoming 2007).]
  • “The 'Spirit of System' and the Fortunes of Physiocracy.” In Oeconomies in the Age of Newton, eds. Neil De Marchi and Margaret Schabas. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003: 42-73.
  • “The Lawyer and the Lightning Rod.” In Science in Context, 12, 1 (1999): 61–99.  [Reprinted in Susan Silbey, ed., Law and Science Volume I: Epistemological, Evidentiary, and Relational Engagements (Ashgate, forthcoming 2008).]
  • “Poor Richard's Leyden Jar: Electricity and Economy in Franklinist France.” In Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, Vol. 28, Part 2 (1998): 301-336.
  • “Rival Idioms for a Revolutionized Science and a Republican Citizenry.” In Isis 1998, 89: 203-232.
  • “Science in the Age of Sensibility.” In Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, eds., Making Things Public (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), 722-726.
  • “La Machine, l'art et l'étron.” In La Recherche hors série no. 12, July-September 2003: 51-53.
  • “Robespierre, l'avocat et le paratonnerre.” In La Recherche hors série no. 8, July/August/September 2002: 86-91.
  • “Le canard, l'homme et le robot.” In La Recherche, no 350, February 2002: 36-40.
  • “Duckshit and Damask.” In Jennifer Riddell, ed., Eve Andrée Laramée: A Permutational Unfolding. Cambridge: List Visual Arts Center, MIT, 1999: 45-51.
  • “Chimie et Révolution: Le Pouvoir des Mots.” In La Recherche, no. 320, May 1999: 75-80.
  • “Newtonianism.” In The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Edited by J.L. Heilbron. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003: 574-576.
  • “Dimostrazioni e intrattenimento.” In Storia della scienza, ed. Sandro Petruccioli, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 10 vols., 2001-, Vol. VI, 2002, pp. 139-143.
  • “Gli amusements aeriformi,” “Gli amusements imponderabili,” “Gli amusements automatici.” In Storia della scienza, ed. Sandro Petruccioli, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 10 vols., 2001-, Vol. VI, pp. 261-268.
  • “I parafulmini.” In Storia della scienza, ed. Sandro Petruccioli, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 10 vols., 2001-, Vol. VI, pp. 275-278.
  • “Condillac, Etienne Bonnot de,” Encyclopedia of Psychology, edited by Alan E. Kazdin (Oxford University Press, 2000), Vol. 2: 255-56.
  • “La Mettrie, Julien Offray de la,” Encyclopedia of Psychology, edited by Alan E. Kazdin (Oxford University Press, 2000), Vol. 4: 471-72.

Awards

  • William H. and Frances Green Faculty Fellowship, 2004-2005
  • J. Russell Major Award (for best book on any aspect of French history), awarded by the American Historical Association, January 2004
  • Scholar’s Award, Program in Science and Technology Studies, National Science Foundation, awarded February 2003
  • Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, awarded January 2003
  • Old Dominion Fellowship, 2000-2001
  • Visiting Scholar, History of Science Department, Harvard University, 1997-98
  • National Science Foundation seed grant, awarded summer 1997

University Service

  • Co-Chair, Program in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, History Department, 2007-
  • Freshman Academic Advisor, 2004-2005
  • Faculty Co-Coordinator, Humanities Center Seminar on Enlightenment and Revolutions, 2002-2007
  • Member, Steering Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, 2002-2003, 2006-2007

Professional Affiliations

  • American Historical Association
  • History of Science Society
  • Society for French Historical Studies
  • American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies