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Professor Ruth Harris

BA, MA, DPhil, FBA
Senior Research Fellow since 2016
Professor of Modern European History, University of Oxford
I am studying global spiritual renewal between approximately 1880 and 1950 by examining the impact of South Asian spiritual figures on Europe and America. The work will concentrate on three themes: the global debate regarding science and religion; the tension between universal spiritual systems and spiritualised nationalism; and the collaborations between South Asian men and their western female adherents. I will be giving the Trevelyan lectures in Cambridge in early 2017 where I will talk about the ‘global idealist moment’ at the turn of the twentieth century.
Contact: ruth.harris at
Professor Ruth Harris
  • Background

    • Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, New College, Oxford (from 1991 to 2016)
    • Associate Professor, History Dept, Smith College, Northampton, Mass. (from 1987 to 1990)
    • Junior Research Fellow, St John's College, Oxford (from 1983 to 1987)
  • Research interests

    • Global History of religion, 19th and 20th centuries (now focused on South Asia, Europe and America)
    • French history, 19th and 20th centuries
    • History of gender, 19th and 20th centuries
    • History of medicine and science, 19th and 20th centuries
  • Selected publications

    • The Man on Devil's Island: Alfred Dreyfus and the Affair that Divided France, (London, Allen Lane/Penguin Press, 2010)
    • Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, (London and New York Penguin/Viking, 1999)
    • Murders and Madness: Medicine, Law and Society in the Fin de Siècle (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1989)
    • 'The Assumptionists and the Dreyfus Affair', Past and Present 194, (2007) 175-211
    • 'Possession on the Borders: the "Mal de Morzine" in Nineteenth-Century France', Journal of Modern History, 69, (1997) 451-78
    • '"The Child of the Barbarian": Rape, Race and Nationalism in World War I', Past and Present 141 (1993), 170-206
  • Research awards and grants

    • Wolfson Prize, for The Man On Devil’s Island: Alfred Dreyfus and the Affair that Divided France (2010).
    • Leverhulme Research Fellowship (from 2008 to 2009).
    • Guggenheim Fellowship (from 1996 to 1997).
    • Jean Monnet Fellowship, European University Institute, Florence, Italy (declined) (from 1994 to 1995).
    • Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Washington DC (declined) (from 1994 to 1995).
    • British Academy Large Research Grant (from 2003 to 2005).
    • Pinkney award for Best Book in French History for Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age 1999, shortlisted for the Longman History award. (1999).