(Travel Fellow, 2019-20)
Promoting the Fresnel Lighthouse Lens: The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Professionalization of Engineering in Nineteenth-Century America
James Risk is an instructor in the History of Science and Technology at the University of South Carolina. He earned his BA in History at Fairmont State University, his MA in Historical Studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and his Ph.D. in the History of Science and Technology at the University of South Carolina.
James’ research at the Linda Hall Library expands on themes in his dissertation while narrowing the overall focus of the research for his manuscript. The research explores both the United States’ adoption of the Fresnel lighthouse lens between 1819 and 1852 and the professionalization of engineering in the United States in the early 19th century. During this time, the United States Army Corps of Engineers promoted the Fresnel lighthouse lens to gain respect for their scientiﬁc knowledge and technical expertise. This research seeks to correct the historiography of the United States Lighthouse Establishment by approaching the topic through the debates in the history of science and technology.
James currently has an article titled “The Fresnel Aﬀair: Manufacturing, Technology Transfer, Republicanism, and the Adoption of the Fresnel Lighthouse Lens, 1819 – 1852,” under review with the North American Society for Oceanic History’s journal, The Northern Mariner, Le marin du nord.