James Hull

Associate Professor Emeritus

Email: james.hull@ubc.ca

Research Summary

History of the Second Industrial Revolution as an historical phenomenon, as an historical concept, and as an historiographic problem; understanding how and why technology changes.

Courses & Teaching

History of science and technology; industrialization.


My work lies in the borderland between the history of science and the history of technology. The areas which interest me include such things as the histories of industrial research, applied chemistry, engineering education, technical standards and the role of technical experts in democratic societies. Because of this, while I sometimes address myself to historians of science or technology I just as often find myself talking to historians of education, urban historians, economic historians or both business and labour historians. I like that; it always forces me to consider why those who might not be interested in my particular topic might be convinced of its importance anyway. About half the time I write on Canadian topics and about half the time on U.S., European or transnational topics. My teaching is mostly on the history of science and technology with occasional forays into U.S. and Canadian history and methodology. I am a member of the editorial boards of Left HistorySpontaneous GenerationsHistory of Intellectual Culture and Scientia Canadensis.


PhD, York University
MA, University of Toronto
BSc, University of Toronto

Selected Publications & Presentations

“The Second Industrial Revolution in Canadian History,” in Edward Jones-Imhotep and Tina Adcock (eds): Made Modern: Science and Technology in Canadian History (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2018)

“Watts Across the Border: Technology and the Integration of the North American Economy in the Second industrial Revolution,” Left History Vol. 19, #2 (Fall/Winter 2015/16).

“‘Made in Canada!: The Canadian Manufacturers’ Association’s Promotion of Canadian Made Goods, 1911-1921,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association (2014), co-authored with Andre Siegel.

“WW1 and the Development of Scientific and Industrial Research in Canadian Universities” in P.J. Stortz and Lisa Panayotidis Canadian Universities and War: Culture, Community, and Conflict (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012).

“Science in the City: Contesting the City Architects’s Office in Toronto,” Scientia Canadensis 35 No 1-2 (2012): 85-106

“Let Freeness Ring: The Canadian Standard Freeness Tester as Hegemonic Engine”. Spontaneous Generations. 4, #1 (2010).

“Elephant Hunters Inspecting Concrete Sidewalks: Engineering Expertise in Toronto’s Age of Municipal Reform”. Ontario History. 100.2 (Autumn 2008): 205 – 220.

“The Expert Professor: C.R. Young and the Toronto Building Code”. Spontaneous Generations. 1.1 (2007): 86 – 94.

Entries on: “factories”, “hydroelectricity”, “nylon” in Russell Lawson (ed) Research and Discovery: Landmarks and Pioneers in American Science. (M.E. Sharpe. 2008).

“Bernhard Edward Fernow” entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Vol. XV (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005).

“Talking Numbers: Deconstructing Engineering Discourse,” in Jeff Keshen and Sylvie Perrier (eds.): Building New Bridges / Bâtir de nouveaux ponts (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press: 2005)

Working with Figures: Industrial Measurement as Hegemonic Discourse Left History 9 (Fall/Winter 2003)

“Raising Standards: Public Works and Industrial Practice in Interwar Ontario” Scientia Canadensis 25 (June 2003)


I administer two Flickr groups dealing with the history of science and technology:

And here I am talking about Darwin:


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