Professor | History of Science
Mike Shank recently discovered that he is one of the older "regulars" in ILS. This surprises him greatly, as he was one of the youngest when he arrived at the UW just a few years ago (1988). An historian of science with many interests, his primary research area is the history of the physical sciences, especially astronomy, in the 14th-17th centuries and on the late medieval universities. He teaches ILS 201 regularly (science, philosophy, and technology from the Babylonians to Newton) and ILS 271 sporadically ("Pre-Copernican Astronomy and Cosmology in Cross-Cultural Perspective"). He hopes someday to revive a course on Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. He enjoys an eclectic range of music and travel (especially north of the 60th parallel). He tends to get crabby if he goes too long without working with his hands. He placates this primal urge with woodworking, repairs on aging houses and engines (specialty: the 2-liter Alfa Romeo overhead cam engine), and the harvesting, cooking, and consumption of wild things (mushrooms, cattails, purslane, venison, nuts, etc). A great fan of the Madison Symphony, American Players Theater, WORT, and Wisconsin Public Radio, he is slowly working his way through everything Wallace Stegner and Willa Cather ever wrote.
Note: ILS Professor Michael Shank has been named the Herbert and Evelyn Howe Bascom Professor in Integrated Liberal Studies for 2008-2010. The professorship honors contributions Evelyn Howe, emerita lecturer in ILS, and Herbert Howe, professor emeritus of classics and ILS, made to the Ford Scholars Program in the 1950's, to ILS, and to the undergraduate education at UW-Madison. ILS gives the award every other year to individuals who make ongoing contributions to ILS and who have enhanced student learning.