Kyle Harper is the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, Professor of Classics and Letters, Senior Advisor to the President, and Provost Emeritus at his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma. Harper has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow in addition to a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University.
Harper is a historian whose work tries to integrate the natural sciences into the study of the human past. His main research interests include the history of infectious disease and climate change and their impact on human societies. More broadly, he writes on the history of humans as agents of ecological change and asks how we can approach questions such as biodiversity, health, and environmental sustainability from a historical perspective.
He is the author of four books. His first book, Slavery in the Late Roman World, was published in 2011 and awarded the James Henry Breasted Prize. His second book, From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality, appeared in 2013 and received the Award for Excellence in Historical Studies from the American Academy of Religion. His third book, The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, was first published in 2017 and subsequently translated into 12 languages. Harper’s fourth book, Plagues upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History, is a global history of infectious disease spanning from human origins to COVID-19. It tells the story of humanity’s long and distinctive struggle with pathogenic microbes. It was the 2021 PROSE winner for best book in the history of science, technology, and medicine.
His next book, The Last Animal, is a history of humans and other animals, emphasizing the ways that other animals have been instrumental in our success, and the ways that our success is a danger to global biodiversity on par with the most catastrophic events in the history of the planet. Like his previous two books, it will be published by Princeton University Press.