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Department of History


James Risk

Title: Instructor
Department: History
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-9194
Office: Room 222
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
James Risk


B.A. History, Fairmont State University 
M.A. Historical Studies, University of Maryland Baltimore County 
Ph.D., History of Science, Technology, & Environment, University of South Carolina 


I joined the History Department Faculty in the Fall of 2017 after earning my Ph.D. in the History of Science, Technology, & Environment under the direction of Drs. Ann Johnson and Allison Marsh. I teach a variety of undergraduate courses in the history of science and technology, public history, and United States history. My HIST 394 “History of the Automobile” course has been extremely popular with students and I am currently revising the curriculum of HIST 201 “America’s Founding Documents” to meet the new Carolina Core requirement for all incoming students beginning with the Fall 2021 semester. My teaching has been recognized by the History Department’s John A. & Annie Rice Excellence in Teaching Award and the Office of Student Disability Services Two Thumbs Up Award. 
My research primarily focuses on maritime technologies in the United States in the nineteenth century. In particular, I am interested in the scientific policy and practice of the United States Lighthouse Establishment between the creation of the United States Constitution and the American Civil War. My research has won fellowships from the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; the Mercurians special interest group of the Society for the History of Technology, the Linda Hall Library, the Rakow Research Library at the Corning Museum of Glass, and the Institute for Humane Studies. My scholarship has reached international audiences most recently in The Northern Mariner / Le marin du nord, The Journal of Glass Studies, and the South Carolina Historical Magazine. I have been an invited speaker at the Portland Greater Landmarks in Maine and the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island in New York to share my research on maritime technologies. I am a member of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), the History of Science Society (HSS), the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH), and the National Maritime Historical Society.  


I recently completed a translation of a French text on the history and building of a museum scale model of the C.S.S. Hunley which the author hopes to publish here in the United States. I am also currently writing my first book, tentatively titled The Fresnel Affair: Science and Technology in the United States Lighthouse Establishment, 1789 - 1852. This manuscript will place the United States’ adoption of the Fresnel lighthouse lens in the proper context of nineteenth-century science and technology rather than the currently romanticized narrative geared toward popular audiences. In addition to the book project, I am working on an article chronicling the American Flint Glass Workers strike in 1904. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.