Jessica Riskin

Frances and Charles Field Professor of History
Director of Graduate Teaching
A.B., Harvard University, History and Science (1988)
PhD, University of California at Berkeley, History (1995)
Jessica Riskin
Jessica Riskin received her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught at MIT before coming to Stanford, and has also taught at Iowa State University and at Sciences Po, Paris. Her research interests include early modern science, politics and culture and the history of scientific explanation.

Riskin is the author of Science in the Age of Sensibility: The Sentimental Empiricists of the French Enlightenment (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 (2007) and, with Mario Biagioli, of Nature Engaged: Science in Practice from the Renaissance to the Present (2012). She is also the author of The Restless Clock: A History of the Centuries-Long Debate over What Makes Living Things Tick (2016), which won the 2021 Patrick Suppes Prize in the History of Science from the American Philosophical Society.


(650) 723-9379

“Letter from Paris.”  In Raritan, Volume 42, Number 1, Summer 2022, pp. 98-127.

"Machines in the Garden." Republics of Letters: A Journal for the Study of Knowledge, Politics, and the Arts 1, no. 2 (April 3, 2010). A second version appears in Mario Biagioli and Jessica Riskin, eds., Nature Engaged: Science in Practice from the Renaissance to the Present (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012): Ch. 11.

"The Defecating Duck, Or, The Ambiguous Origins of Artificial Life." in Critical Inquiry Summer 2003, Vol. 20, no. 4, 599-633. [Reprinted in Bill Brown, ed., Things (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 99-133].

"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).]

Pinker's Pollyannish Philosophy and Its Perfidious Politics

Just Use Your Thinking Pump

Evolution Wars: The Saga Continues

Nature's Evolving Tastes

Why Biology Is Not Destiny

A Poisonous Legacy

A Sort of Buzzing Inside of My Head

"Eighteenth Century Wetware"

"Poor Richard's Leyden Jar: Electricity and Economy in Franklinist France"

"Rival Idioms for a Revolutionized Science and a Republican Citizenry"