Albert Bierstadt, Albino Doe and Two Fawns in Forest, 1875, Oil on canvas, SUAC 0040.005, Annie Walter Arents Collection, Gift of George Arents, Courtesy of the Syracuse University Art Collection.

On March 5, 2020, acclaimed animal studies scholar, Harriet Ritvo, Arthur J. Conner Professor of History, MIT, gave a keynote lecture at Syracuse University titled, Hybridity, Breed, and Wildness. Her presentation kicked off an Environmental Humanities symposium organized by professor Robert Wilson (geography). Professor Ritvo’s public lecture was organized as a part of the Landscape Studies Interdisciplinary Faculty seminar sponsored by the CUSE Grant Program.

Hybridity, Breed, and Wildness

SPEAKER:  Harriet Ritvo

While maintaining pedigrees to guarantee purity, nineteenth-century animal breeders also occasionally attempted to achieve improvement through hybridization. The keepers of zoos and menageries similarly encouraged their charges to produce hybrid offspring. In both cases the resulting crosses complicated the understanding of formal categories including species and breed, as well as of vernacular categories such as wild and domesticated.