Samuel Otter

Professor
2013-2014
Samuel Otter

Professor Samuel Otter's research and teaching focus on nineteenth-century United States literatures. He is particularly interested in the relationships between literature and history, the varieties of literary excess, and the ways in which close reading also can be deep and wide. He has published Melville’s Anatomies (1999), in which he analyzes Melville’s concern with how meanings, particularly racial meanings, have been invested in and abstracted from human bodies. In his 2010 book, Philadelphia Stories, Otter examines the narratives about race, character, manners, violence, and freedom that unfold across a range of texts written in and about Philadelphia between 1790 and 1860. In his current book-in-progress, Otter returns to Melville, analyzing his poetry as well as his prose and his career-long interest in the visual arts and in questions of temporality, examining what he—and we—might mean by literary "form."