History Department
History Department

Jesse Ritner



Environmental and Native American Histories, History of Science, Gender, Settler-Colonialism & NAIS Methodology, "Neo-Materialism", Public History


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, 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 Native American histories 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 from institutions around the country, including among others the yearlong 2020 American Meteorological Society Graduate Fellowship in the History of Science.

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 in Aspen, Colorado.  Over his life, he has skied in Pennsylvania, Vermont, New York, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Austria.  These diverse experiences with different winter climates informs his work on the ways in which different material foundations and people's embodied experiences play central roles in capital investment, the politics of class, race, and gender in different places and spaces, and broader conceptions of what certain types of weather and climate are capable of.

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 project.

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