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 5621 - Proseminar: The French Revolution
  • 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
Alternative Output Formats Alternative Output Formats

Featured Faculty

  • Prof. Ruggles Chosen to Lead Population Association of America (PAA)

    Prof. Steve Ruggles has been chosen president-elect of the Population Association of America (PAA) He will be the first historian ever to lead that organization (more typically its presidents have been sociologists or economists). Steve will serve as PAA president-elect in 2014 and president in 2015.

    This honor is recognition of the great work that Steve has done both in his own research and in supporting the work of other scholars through his work with the Minnesota Population Center. Congratulations, Prof. Ruggles!

    Learn more about the Population Association of America (PAA)

    March 15th, 2014
  • Digital Research Projects by HIST 3959 Students

    In Fall 2013, HIST 3959 - How to Do History was taught by Prof. Donna Gabaccia with a focus on digital history research projects. One additional feature of HIST 3959 this fall was that six graduate students earned graduate credit by working with the undergraduate groups as "project managers."

    Here is a sample of innovative projects from class:

    The Pacific Railroad Surveyors
    Jewish Life in 1930s/40s Minneapolis
    Why Public Education?
    Rustication in the Chinese Cultural Revolution
    Early Scandinavian Cartography
    Korea, Forgotten War?
    Political Leadership and Masculinity

    December 13th, 2013
  • Major Awards for History Profs. Kevin Murphy, Barbara Welke, Donna Gabaccia (2), Kay Reyerson, Elaine Tyler May

    It has been a season for great honors and accomplishments for our faculty. Congratulations to all!

    Donna Gabaccia is one of the recipients of the 2013 University Outstanding Community Service Award
    Donna Gabaccia has been awarded the Theodore Saloutos Memorial Book Award of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society for Foreign Relations: American Immigration in Global Perspective.
    Elaine Tyler May has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2013 by The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
    Kevin Murphy is a 2013 recipient of the UofM's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.
    Kay Reyerson has been awarded the Robert L. Kindrick-CARA Award for Outstanding Service to Medieval Studies by the Medieval Academy.
    Barbara Welke has been named one of the new Distinguished McKnight University Professors.

    April 3rd, 2013

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