Bio


Jessica Riskin received her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught at MIT for several years before coming to Stanford, and has also taught 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 (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) and, with Mario Biagioli, of Nature Engaged: Science in Practice from the Renaissance to the Present (Palgrave, 2012). Her new book, The Restless Clock: A History of the Centuries-Long Debate about What Makes Living Things Tick, is out from the University of Chicago Press in April 2016.

Academic Appointments


  • Professor, History

Administrative Appointments


  • Professeur Invite, Chaire en Humanitis scientifiques, Sciences Po, Paris, France (2011 - 2012)
  • Visiting Fellow, Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS-ENS-EHESS, Paris, France (2008 - 2009)
  • Associate Professor, History Department, Stanford University (2007 - Present)
  • Affiliated Faculty, Modern Thought and Literature, Stanford University (2013 - Present)
  • Assistant Professor, History Department, Stanford University (2001 - 2007)
  • Leo Marx Career Development Assistant Professor of the History and Culture of Science and Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1998 - 2001)
  • Assistant Professor, History Department, Iowa State University (1996 - 1998)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Dibner Institute for the History of Science, Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology (1997 - 1998)
  • Visiting Scholar, History of Science Department, Harvard University (1997 - 1998)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, History Department, Northwestern University (1995 - 1996)

Honors & Awards


  • Inaugural Chair in Humanites scientifiques, Sciences Po, Paris (2011-2012)
  • Membre associe, REHSEIS, CNRS and Universite de Paris-7, Paris (2010-2011)
  • Visiting Research Fellowship, History Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australia National University, Canberra (2007)
  • William H. and Frances Green Faculty Fellowship, Stanford University (2004- 2005)
  • William H. and Frances Green Faculty Fellowship, William H. and Frances Green (2006-2007)
  • ]. Russell Major Award, American Historical Association (2004)
  • Scholar's Award, Program in Science and Technology Studies, National Science Foundation (2003)
  • Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (2003)
  • Old Dominion Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2000-2001)
  • Mabelle McLeod Lewis Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley (1994-1995)
  • Doreen P. Townsend Fellowship, U.C. Berkeley (1994-1995)
  • Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (1993-1994)
  • National Science Foundation Fellowship, National Science Foundation (1990-1993)
  • Mellon Foundation Dissertation Prospectus Fellowship, Department of History, U.C. Berkeley (1991)
  • Regents Scholarship, U.C. Berkeley (1989-1990)
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard University (1988)
  • Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Award, Harvard University (1986-1987)
  • Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Award, Harvard University (1985-1986)
  • Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Award, Harvard University (1984-1985)
  • Harvard College Scholarship, Harvard University (1985-1986)
  • Westinghouse Science Talent Search, top ten, Westinghouse Science Talent Search (1984)
  • J. Russell Major Prize, American Historical Association (2004)
  • John Harvard Scholarship, Harvard University (1986-1987)
  • John Harvard Scholarship, Harvard University (1984-1985)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Editorial Board member, Isis (2013 - Present)
  • Associate Editor, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (2007 - Present)
  • Conference Organizer, Theories of Evolution and their Applications: History of Science and History of Populations, 18th -21st Centuries, Sciences Po, Paris (2013 - 2013)
  • Council member, History of Science Society (2009 - 2012)
  • Program Co-Chair, History of Science Society Annual Meeting (2009 - 2009)
  • Invited participant, Kandersteg Seminar on intellectual history and political thought, Remarque Institute, NYU (2007 - 2007)
  • Conference organizer, Science and Sensibility in the American Enlightenment, Stanford (2007 - 2007)
  • Member, Leo Gershoy Award Committee, American Histotical Association (2004 - 2007)
  • Member, Program Committee, Society for French Historical Studies annual meeting (2005 - 2005)
  • Conference organizer, Workshop on the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life, Stanford University (2003 - 2003)
  • President, West Coast History of Science Society (2001 - 2002)
  • Member, History of Science Society
  • Member, American Historical Association
  • Member, Society for French Historical Studies
  • Member, American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies
  • Member, France-Stanford Center Executive Committee (2012 - Present)
  • Member, Graduate Admissions Committee in History, Stanford University (2012 - Present)
  • Director, Honors Program in History, Stanford University (2012 - Present)
  • Participant, Faculty College, the new SIMILE program, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Member Curriculum Committee, History Department, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Field Coordinator, Early Modern Europe, History Department, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Field Coordinator, History of Science, History Department, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Co-Chair, Program in History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Stanford University (2007 - 2012)
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, History Department, Stanford University (2007 - 2010)
  • Member, Introduction to the Humanities Governance Board, Stanford University (2007 - 2010)
  • Member, Writing and Rhetoric Requirement Governance Board, Stanford University (2006 - 2010)
  • Reader, Stanford Humanities Center fellowship applications (2003 - 2010)
  • Member Graduate Studies Committee, History Department, Stanford University (2006 - 2007)
  • Freshman Academic Advisor, Stanford University (2004 - 2005)
  • Major Grant Proposal Reviewer, Undergraduate Research Programs, Stanford University (2004 - 2005)
  • Member, Policy Committee, History Department, Stanford University (2004 - 2005)
  • Member, Policy Committee, History Department,Stanford University (2007 - 2008)
  • Member, Appointments Committee, History Department, Stanford University (2004 - 2005)
  • Faculty Co-Coordinator, Seminar on Enlightenment and Revolutions, Stanford University (2002 - 2005)
  • Member, Steering Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, Stanford University (2002 - 2003)
  • Member, Steering Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, Stanford University (2006 - 2007)
  • Member, Honors Thesis Prize Committee, History Department, Stanford University (2002 - 2002)
  • Member, Humanities Fellows Selection Committee, Stanford University (2002 - 2002)
  • Advisor, Program in Science, Technology and Society, Stanford University (2001 - Present)
  • Secretary, History Department, Stanford University (2001 - 2002)

Program Affiliations


  • Modern Thought and Literature
  • Science, Technology and Society
  • Symbolic Systems Program

Professional Education


  • A.B., Harvard University, History and Science (1988)
  • PhD, University of California at Berkeley, History (1995)

2018-19 Courses


Stanford Advisees


  • Doctoral Dissertation Reader (AC)
    Phoebus Cotsapas, Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein, Anna Toledano
  • Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
    Greg Priest
  • Orals Evaluator
    Stephan Risi, Julia Roever, Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein, Duygu Yildirim
  • Doctoral (Program)
    Edward Barnet, Greg Priest

All Publications


  • Machines in the Garden Republics of Letters: A Journal for the Stuc!J if Knowledge, Politics, and the Arts Riskin, J. G. 2010; 1 (2)
  • The defecating duck, or, the ambiguous origins of artificial life CRITICAL INQUIRY Riskin, J. 2003; 29 (4): 599-633
  • THE EARLY MODERN MACHINE: DIVINE, SENTIMENTAL, ROMANTIC MODERN INTELLECTUAL HISTORY Riskin, J. 2015; 12 (2): 443-451
  • The Restless Clock Early Modern Things: Objects and their Histories, 1500-1800 Riskin, J. edited by Findlen, P. New York: Routledge. 2012
  • The New Pragmatism Nature Engaged: Science in Practice from the Renaissance to the Present Riskin, J. edited by Biagioli, M., Riskin, J. 2012
  • Machines in the Garden Nature Engaged: Science in Practice from the Renaissance to the Present Riskin, J. edited by Biagoli, M., Riskin, J. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. 2012
  • The Divine Optician AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW Riskin, J. 2011; 116 (2): 352-370

    View details for Web of Science ID 000289607300005

    View details for PubMedID 21568129

  • Newton and Monotheism (Review of "The Emergence of a Scientific Culture" by S. Gaukroger, "The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science" by P. Harrison, "The Intelligibility of Nature" by P. Dear, and "Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance" by G. Saliba) Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences Riskin, J. 2010; 40 (3): 399-408
  • Mr. Machine and the Imperial Me The Super-Enlightenment: Daring to Know Too Much, special issue of Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century Riskin, J. 2010; 1: 75-94
  • The Adventures of Mr. Machine, With Morals History of the Human Body in the Age of Enlightenment, 1650-1800 Riskin, J. edited by Reeves, C. Oxford: Berg. 2010: 73–92
  • Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) The SuperEnlightenment Riskin, J. edited by Edelstein, D. 2009
  • The Mesmerism Investigation and the Crisis of Sensibilist Science The Sixth Sense Reade Riskin, J. edited by Howes, D. New York: Berg. 2009
  • Amusing Physics Science and Spectacle in the European Enlightenment Riskin, J. edited by Bensaude-Vincent, B., Blondel, C. London: Ashgate. 2008
  • Cottage in a Boudoir (Review of "Sensation and Sensibility: Viewing Gainsborough's Cottage Door" by A. Bermingham, Ed.) Senses and Society Riskin, J. 2007; 2 (3): 391-398
  • The Sistine Gap Genesis Redux Riskin, J. edited by Riskin, J. 2007
  • Eighteenth Century Wetware The Artificial and the Natural.· An Evolving Polariry Riskin, J. edited by Bensaude-Vincent, B., Newman, W. R. Cambridge: MIT Press. 2007
  • As Famous as the Moon (Review of "The First Scientific American: Benjamin Chaplin and the Pursuit of Genius" by J. Chaplin American Historical Review Riskin, J. 2007: 187-188
  • Science and polity in France: The revolutionary and Napoleonic years. (Book Review) JOURNAL OF MODERN HISTORY Book Review Authored by: Riskin, J. 2006; 78 (3): 722-724
  • Growing explanations: Historical perspectives on recent science. (Book Review) JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY HISTORY Book Review Authored by: Riskin, J. 2006; 37 (1): 91-92
  • Amusing physics HARVARD LIBRARY BULLETIN Riskin, J. 2006; 17 (1-2): 14-28
  • Kunstliches Leben produzieren. Denkparallelen im Automatenbau des 18. Jahrhunderts und heute Artifizielle Korper lebendige Technik: Technische Modellierungen des Korpers in historischer Perspektive Riskin, J. edited by Orland, B. Zurich: Chronos Verlag. 2005: 65–85
  • Science in the Age of Sensibility Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy Riskin, J. edited by Latour, B., Weibel, P. Cambridge: MIT Press. 2005: 722–726
  • Pandora's breeches: Women, science and power in the enlightenment (Book Review) NATURE Book Review Authored by: Riskin, J. 2004; 429 (6991): 503-504

    Abstract

    Penetration by an object through a dense granular medium (for example, by a finger pushing slowly into the sand on a beach) presents an interesting physics problem that is closely related to issues of practical importance in soil science. Here we measure the penetration-resistance force for an object approaching the solid bottom boundary of a granular sample--analogous to the finger approaching a flat rock buried in the beach. We find that the penetration resistance near the boundary increases exponentially, which demonstrates the existence of an intrinsic length scale to the 'jamming' caused by a locally applied stress.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/429503a

    View details for Web of Science ID 000221767700017

  • The wild girl, natural man, and the monster: Dangerous experiments in the age of enlightenment (Book Review) JOURNAL OF MODERN HISTORY Book Review Authored by: Riskin, J. 2004; 76 (2): 451-453
  • The Defecating Duck; or, The Ambiguous Origins of Artificial Life Things Riskin, J. edited by Brown, B. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2004: 99–133.
  • Eighteenth-century wetware (Automatons, artificial mechanics) REPRESENTATIONS Riskin, J. 2003: 96-125
  • The 'Spirit of System' and the Fortunes of Physiocracy Oeconomies in the Age of Newton Riskin, J. edited by Marchi, N. D., Schabas, M. Durham and London: Duke University Press. 2003: 42–73
  • La Machine, l'art et l'etron La Recherche Riskin, J. 2003; 12: 51-53
  • Newtonianism The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Riskin, J. edited by Heilbron, J. L. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2003: 574–576
  • A version of Ch. 4 is reprinted as "The 'Spirit of System' and the Fortunes of Physiocracy," Oeconomies in the Age of Newton edited by Marchi, N. D., Schabas., M. Durham and London: Duke University Press. 2003: 42–73
  • Le canard, l'homme et le robot La Recherche Riskin, J. 2002; 350: 36-40
  • Dimostrazioni e intrattenirnento Storia della scienza Riskin, J. edited by Petruccioli, S. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana. 2002
  • Robespierre, l'avocat et le paratonnerre La Recherche Riskin, J. 2002; 8: 86-91
  • The sciences in enlightened Europe. (Book Review) ISIS Book Review Authored by: Riskin, J. 2001; 92 (4): 786-788
  • Dimostrazioni e intrattenirnento Storia della scienza edited by Petrucciole, S. Istituto della Enciclopedia. 2001; 10
  • I parafulmini Storia della scienza Riskin, J. edited by Petruccioli, S. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana. 2001: 275–278
  • Gli amusements aeriformi, Gli amusements imponderabili, Gli amusements automatici Storia della scienza Riskin, J. edited by Petruccioli, S. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana. 2001: 261–268
  • Condillac, Etienne Bonnot de Enryclopedia of Psychology Riskin, J. edited by Kazdin, A. E. Oxford University Press. 2000: 255–256
  • La Mettrie, Julien Offray de la Enryclopedia of Psychology Riskin, J. edited by Kazdin, A. E. Oxford University Press. 2000; 471-472
  • Minerva's Message: Stabilizing the French Revolution. (Book Review) ISIS Book Review Authored by: Riskin, J. 1999; 90 (3): 598-599
  • The lawyer and the lightning rod SCIENCE IN CONTEXT Riskin, J. 1999; 12 (1): 61-99
  • Duckshit and Damask Eve Andree Laramie: A Permutational Urifolding Riskin, J. edited by Riddell, J. List Visual Arts Center, MIT. 1999: 45–51
  • Chimie et Revolution: Le Pouvoir des Mots La Recherche Riskin, J. 1999; 320: 75-80
  • Lavoisier: Chemist, biologist, economist. (Book Review) JOURNAL OF MODERN HISTORY Book Review Authored by: Riskin, J. 1998; 70 (3): 703-705
  • Rival idioms for a revolutionized science and a republican citizenry ISIS Riskin, J. 1998; 89 (2): 203-232
  • Poor Richard's Leyden Jar: Electricity and economy in Franklinist France HISTORICAL STUDIES IN THE PHYSICAL AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Riskin, J. 1998; 28: 301-336
  • Review of "Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life" by T. M. Porter Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences Riskin, J. 1996; 27 (1): 190-191
  • Review of "Benjamin Franklin's Science" by I. B. Cohen Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences Riskin, J. 1993; 24 (1): 190-191