Steven A. Walton

Steven A. Walton
"I find it astonishing that any man can regard fine machinery without admiration."
—John William Stone (in Stones Fall, by Iain Pears)


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  • Associate Professor of History
  • Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1999
  • M.A., University of Toronto, 1994
  • M.S., California Inst. of Technology, 1992
  • B.S., Cornell University, 1991


I began my career as a mechanical engineer and then turned to the history of engineering through the history of science and technology. I am principally interested in the intersection of technology, its users, and the technical knowledge that they claim about it. Much of my work, though chronologically diverse, centers on military topics from arms and armor to artillery and the use of scientific instrumentation in war. My teaching focuses on the role of science and technology in the world and I teach on the history and philosophy of technology and science, as well as general courses in European history and military history.

I am currently at work on a number of projects:

  • a book-length study on the transition from castle to fortress in the British Isles in the mid-16th century.
    • This began as a study of Jaccopo Aconcio and his 1540s fortification treatise (which I found and edited, but then was subsequently scooped by an Italian team who also found it; oh well, it made me make this a more analytical work), but now looks at a series of fortifications and writings on fortifications from the 1520s to 1570s. The argument is that the codification of the trace italienne fortification, is not quite so straightforward nor as 'scientific' as it is usually taken to be.  Aconcio's positions his treatise as an example of Renaissance method, providing a clue to the position of this new knowledge within English society.
    • I am also going to be publishing a modernized edition in the journal Fort: the journal of the Fortress Study Group in 2017
  • I have also recently edited a number of projects:
  • numerous studies related to American ordnance and the West Point Foundry
    • a paper on the earliest U.S. cannon foundries
    • a paper on the question of a national foundry in the US throughout the 19th century.
    • a paper on the art collection of Gouverneur Kemble (owner of the WPF)

Areas of Expertise

  • history of technology
  • history of science
  • artillery, fortification, ordnance
  • history of engineering
  • military history
  • Early Modern European history