Harriet Ritvo


Arthur J. Conner Professor of History

Harriet Ritvo works in the fields of environmental history, the history of human-animal relations, British and British empire history, and the history of natural history. She is the author of The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism (Chicago UP, 2009), The Platypus and the Mermaid, and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination (Harvard UP, 1997), The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Harvard UP, 1987), and Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History (Virginia, 2010); she is also the co-editor of Macropolitics of Nineteenth-Century Literature: Nationalism, Imperialism, Exoticism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991) and the editor of Charles Darwin’s The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998). Her articles and reviews have appeared in a wide range of periodicals, including The Times Literary Supplement, The London Review of Books, Science, Daedalus, The American Scholar, Technology Review, and The New York Review of Books, as well as scholarly journals in several fields. Her current book project, The Edges of Wild, concerns wildness and domestication.

She serves on the Board of Incorporators of Harvard Magazine; on the editorial boards of Victorian Studies, Journal of the History of Biology, Agricultural History Review, and Animals and Society, and as editor of the “Animals, History, Culture” series published by the Johns Hopkins University Press and co-editor of the series “Flow, Migrations, and Exchanges” published by the University of North Carolina Press. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and past President of the American Society for Environmental History. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, and the Stanford Humanities Center. She has received a Whiting Writers Award and a Graduate Society Award from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.  In 2020 she received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society for Environmental History.

Articles and Publications

“Q is for Quagga,” Animalia:  An Anti-Imperial Bestiary for Our Times, Duke University Press, 2020.

“Species,” Critical Terms in Animal Studies, ed. Lori Gruen, University of Chicago Press, 2018.

“The Domestic Stain, or Maintaining Standards,” Troubling Species:  Care and Belonging in a Relational World, Rachel Carson Center Perspectives, 2017.

“Invasion/Invasive” Environmental Humanities, 2017.

“The World as Zoo,” The Ark and Beyond:  The Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation, ed. Ben Minteer et al., University of Chicago Press, 2018.