University of Minnesota
Department of History

Department of History's home page.

JB Shank

Department of History 922 HellerH 271 19th Ave S

Department Affiliations


  • Enlightenment science and Newtonianism
  • European intellectual history, especially 17th and 18th centuries
  • Renaissance science and culture
  • Old Regime France and the French Revolution
  • the history of Silicon Valley


  • "'There was no such thing as the 'Newtonian Revolution,' and the French initiated it:' Eighteenth-century Mechanics in France Before Maupertuis". Shank, JB, Author, 2004.
  • "Fontenelle's Calculus: The Cultural Politics of Mathematics in Louis XIV’s France". Shank, JB, in David Glimp and Michelle Warren eds, Arts of Calculation: Numerical Thought in Early Modern Europe, Palgrave/McMillan, Author, 2004.
  • "On the Alleged Cartesianism of Fontenelle". Shank, JB, Author, 2004.
  • Review: "J.A. English-Lueck, Cultures@Silicon Valley (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).. Shank, JB, Author, November, 2003.
  • Review Essay: "Descartes in the Age of Jurassic Technology: A Review of Recent Scholarship,". Shank, JB, H-France, Author, May, 2003.
  • Before Voltaire: Newton, "Newtonianism," and the Beginning of the Enlightenment in France. Shank, JB, University of Chicago Press, Author, 2005.
  • Neither Natural Philosophy, Nor Science, Nor Literature: Gender and the Pursuit of Nature in Fontenelle' s Entretiens. Shank, JB, 2005.

Research Activities

  • Beyond the Two Cultures: the Arts and Sciences Before the Modern Disciplines: Book project, 2004
  • Book Manuscript: Before Voltaire: Newton, "Newtonianism," and the Beginning of the French Enlightenment, 1995 - 2005


  • Fullbright Fellow, France, 1995 - 1996
  • Fellow in the Humanities, Stanford University, 1999 - 2000
  • McKnight Land-Grant Professorship, 2004 - 2006

Courses Taught

  • Hist 5649 - Ideas in Context: Making Early Modern Knowledge, 1500-1800
  • Hist 3281 - Modern European Intellectual History I, 1500-1750
  • History 5650 - The European Enlightenment
  • Humanities 1003/3003 - Thought and Culture in the West 1400-1600
  • History 3900 - The Origins of Global Revolution, 1660-1848
  • History 3842 - The History of Silicon Valley
  • History 3709 - Science and Enlightenment: European Thought and Culture 1550-1750
  • History 1032 - "Western Civilization:" 1500 to the Present
  • Hist 8960/ArtHist 8956 - Arts of Discovery: Science and Visual Culture in the Age of of Exploration, 1500-1800
  • Humanities 1004/3004 - Thought and Culture in the West 1600-1800
  • Hist 3282 - Modern European Intellectual History II, 1750-Present
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Featured Faculty

  • Jean O'Brien, 2014 Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award

    Jean O'Brien has been awarded this year's Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award. Jean O'Brien joins Erika Lee (2012) as the second historian to receive Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award. Congratulations, Jeani!

    August 31st, 2014
  • Ann Waltner, 2014 President's Award for Outstanding Service

    Congratulations to Ann Waltner, who is a 2014 recipient of the President's Award for Outstanding Service.

    May 1st, 2014
  • Giancarlo Casale, Morse-Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education

    Giancarlo Casale has been named winner of this year's Morse-Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

    The department's nomination recognized his success in the classroom, his integration of language study and study abroad, his activity as a public intellectual, and his service as DUS.

    Each year since 1965, the University of Minnesota has recognized a select group of faculty members for their outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. This honor is awarded to exceptional candidates nominated by colleges in their quest to identify excellence in undergraduate education.

    Congratulations, Giancarlo!

    April 1st, 2014

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