History Department
History Department

Jesse Ritner



Environmental Technology, Race & Environment, new materialism/posthumanism, NAIS.


Jesse is a PhD candidate who specializes in U.S. Environmental History. His dissertation, tentatively titled "Making Snow: Weather, Technology, and the Rise of the American Ski Industry, 1900-present," explores how the North American ski industry came of age in the second half of the twentieth century, despite the increasingly unreliable snowpack of the last seventy years.  The project explores themes of weather modification (both successful and unsuccessful), environmental resilience, race, the politics of place and space, as well as the ways in which people experience and discuss weather and climate.  His research includes weather, climate, water, leisure, capitalism, science, and histories of race in North America. He also has an interest in the theoretical intersections between new materialism, posthumanism, and history, as well as posthumanism and gender.  Jesse has received a number of external grants and fellowships from institutions around the country. He currently holds a fellowship in the study of race and caste at the Institute for Historical Study here in Austin.

Jesse grew up outside Philadelphia. In 2015 he received his BA in both History and Government from Skidmore College.  He spent the interim two years working for the National Park Service restoring historic architecture during the summers, during which he gained an appreciation for preservation as an essential aspect of public history.  During his winters, he worked as a ski instructor (fore ages 7-17) at Snowmass, in Aspen, Colorado. In addition to teaching tourists, he also taught with the Aspen Valley Ski Club where he worked with a much more economically and racially diverse group of kids. Over his life, he has skied in Pennsylvania, Vermont, New York, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Austria.  These diverse experiences with different winter climates inform his work.

Jesse is firmly committed to public history. In his time at UT has worked as the Assistant Editor and Assistant Books Editor of the public history website Not Even Past. He frequently contributes to the site. He has also published short pieces in Technology Stories and Edge Effects. He also publishes his own blog, called The Lift Line, on the history of skiing.