Thomas Otten


  • Title Lecturer
  • Office 343
  • Phone 617-358-2541
  • Education BA, Lawrence University
    MA, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

For CV see here

Thomas J. Otten specializes in American literatures of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, with a focus on visual and material culture.  He is the author of A Superficial Reading of Henry James: Preoccupations with the Material World (2006), a book which grapples with that strange thing the Jamesian thing, and which ends with a manifesto for a literary study that catches onto the surfaces and textures of everyday life.  He has published essays on Jorie Graham, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Pauline Hopkins in ELH, American Literature, PMLA, and MLQ among others, and is currently studying narratives of traversal through the commodity-world of late capitalism.

Selected Publications
  • A Superficial Reading of Henry James: Preoccupations with the Material World (2006)
  • “Hawthorne’s Twisted Letters,” Modern Language Quarterly (2009)
  • “Emily Dickinson’s Brain: On Lyric and the History of Anatomy,” Prospects (2005)
  • “Jorie Graham’s _______s,” PMLA (2003)
  • “Slashing Henry James (On Painting and Political Economy, Circa 1900),” Yale Journal of Criticism (2000)
  • The Spoils of Poynton and the Properties of Touch,” American Literature (1999)
  • “Pauline Hopkins and the Hidden Self of Race,” ELH (1992)
Work in Progress
  • A series of essays on social theory and visual imagery
  • A book on American material culture
Honors, Grants, and Awards
  • Outstanding Teaching Award, Honors Program, CAS, Boston University (2009)
  • Morse Fellowship, Yale University (1997–98)
Other Professional Activities
  • Class of 1916 Lecturer, Cornell University (2003)
  • Fellow, Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University (2000–2002)

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