Dr. Harriet Ritvo, a professor of history and writing, who is widely acclaimed as a versatile and original scholar of the Victorian period, has been selected to be the inaugural holder of a new professorship established by the Arthur J. Connor (1888) Trust.
The new chair is designated for "a distinguished faculty member in the humanities" and Professor Ritvo was selected in recognition of her "outstanding contributions," she was informed in a letter from Provost Mark S. Wrighton.
Professor Ritvo's critically acclaimed book, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age, (Harvard University Press, 1987; Penguin, 1990) concerns 19th-century British social mores as reflected in their attitudes toward animals. She is currently completing a book to be entitled The Platypus and the Mermaid: Animal Classification as British Culture. She is the author of numerous articles on British cultural history and the history of human-animal relations.
She is also co-editor of The Macropolitics of Nineteenth-Century Literature: Nationalism, Imperialism, Exoticism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991; Duke University Press, 1995).
Professor Ritvo, who is concluding a three-year term as associate dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, received the AB in English from Harvard in 1968. She attended Girton College at Cambridge University in England and received the PhD from Harvard in 1975. She joined MIT in 1979.
She has been awarded fellowships from the Stanford Humanities Center, the Yale Center for British Art, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Humanities Center. She has also been a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge University. In 1990 she received the Whiting Writers' Award.
Professor Ritvo is a native of Cambridge and lives in Watertown.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 24, 1995.