Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris, FBA (born 25 December 1958) is an American historian and academic. She has been Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford since 2011 and a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, since 2016. Previously, she was Fellow of New College, Oxford, between 1990 and 2016, a Junior Research Fellow at St John's College, Oxford, from 1983 to 1987 and an Associate Professor at Smith College from 1987 to 1990. She was awarded the Wolfson History Prize in 2010 for her book The Man on Devil's Island.

Ruth Harris

Born (1958-12-25) 25 December 1958
TitleProfessor of Modern History
Iain Pears (m. 1985)
AwardsWolfson History Prize (2010)
Fellow of the British Academy (2011)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania
University of Oxford
Academic work
Sub-disciplineModern European history
History of France
History of religion
Gender history
Cultural history
History of science and medicine
InstitutionsSt John's College, Oxford
Smith College
New College, Oxford
University of Oxford
All Souls College, Oxford

Early life and education

Harris was born on 25 December 1958.[1] She grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.[2] She studied at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and a Master of Arts (MA) degree.[2][3] Having won a scholarship, she then studied at the University of Oxford and completed a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree in 1984.[2][4] Her doctoral thesis was titled "Murders and madness: legal psychiatry and criminal anthropology in Paris, 1880-1910".[4]

Academic career

Harris began her academic career as a Junior Research Fellow at St John's College, Oxford between 1983 and 1987.[3][2] In 1987, she was shortlisted for a position at Christ Church, Oxford, but "decided to withdraw when she realised there was only one other woman Fellow at the college".[2] Instead, she returned to the United States and took up a position at Smith College, an all-women's liberal arts college in Northampton, Massachusetts.[2] From 1987 to 1990, she was an Associate Professor at Smith College.[3][2]

In 1990, Harris returned to England was elected a Fellow of New College, Oxford.[2] At college level, she was a Tutor in History.[3] She also lectures in the Faculty of History, University of Oxford, and was granted a Title of Distinction in 2011 as Professor of Modern History.[5][6] In 2016, she was elected a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.[7][8]

In 2006, she delivered the George L. Mosse lectures at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.[9] In 2017, delivered the George Macaulay Trevelyan lectures in Cambridge.[10]

Personal life

In 1985, Harris married Iain Pears, an author. Together they have two sons.[1]


In 1996, Harris was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for research in French History.[11] She was awarded the 2010 Wolfson History Prize for her book, The Man on Devil's Island: Alfred Dreyfus and the Affair that Divided France.[5][12] In 2011, she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), the UK's national academy for the humanities and the social sciences.[13] In February 2014, she was made an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford.[14]

Selected works

  • Harris, Ruth (1989). Murders and madness: medicine, law, and society in the fin de siècle. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0198229919.
  • Harris, Ruth (1999). Lourdes: body and spirit in a secular age. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 978-0713991864.
  • Harris, Ruth, ed. (2006). The Art of Survival: Essays in Honour of Olwen Hufton. Oxford: Oxford Journals. ISBN 978-0199208029.
  • Harris, Ruth (2010). The man on Devil's Island: Alfred Dreyfus and the affair that divided France. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 978-0713997309.


  1. "HARRIS, Prof. Ruth". Who's Who 2016. Oxford University Press. November 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  2. Reisz, Matthew (22 July 2010). "A tale of two Frances". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  3. "Ruth Harris". New College. University of Oxford. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  4. Ruth, Harris (1984). "Murders and madness : legal pyschiatry and criminal anthropology in Paris, 1880-1910". E-Thesis Online Service. The British Library. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  5. "Professor Ruth Harris". History Faculty. University of Oxford. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  6. "Recognition of Distinction 2010–2011: Successful Candidates" (pdf). Oxford University Gazette. University of Oxford. 141 (4974): Supplement 1. 18 January 2012.
  7. "Senior Research Fellowship Elections".
  8. "All Souls College Oxford". Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  9. "George L. Mosse Program in History". Archived from the original on 2014-12-08.
  10. "2017 George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures". Archived from the original on 2017-02-17.
  11. "Ruth Harris". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  12. "Previous winners". The Wolfson Foundation. 2016. Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  13. "Professor Ruth Harris". British Academy. 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  14. "New Honorary Fellows". St John's College. University of Oxford. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
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