2000/02/24

Miscellaneous Works:祝辞の達人:3


I am very pleased to introduce to you Professor Samuel Otter of the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Melville's Anatomies, published by the University of California Press in 1999 and the winner of the Hennig Cohen Prize awarded by the Melville Society for the best publication in Melville studies in 2000.

Born in New York City in 1956, Professor Otter entered the graduate school of Cornell University in 1982, and received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature in August 1990. I happened to meet him at Cornell in the mid-1980s, taking some of the same classes with such professors as Michael Colacurccio and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In 1990, Professor Otter began teaching in the English Department of UC-Berkeley, teaching and writing about a range of writers and topics, including Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, "American Short Stories and Novellas," "British and American Poetry of the Nineteenth Century" "American Studies: Literature and History of New York and Philadelphia," "American Studies: Representing Race in 19th and 20th Century United States Culture," to name a few. His administrative experience includes acting as Chair in the English Department and leading a Faculty Search from 2000 to 2001. Moreover, he has served on the editorial boards of such prestigious academic journals as Representations (1997-) and Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies (1998-). Most recently, Professor Otter has been part of the executive committee for the Fifth International Conference of the Melville Society to be held in New Bedford, Massachusetts in June, whose focus this year will be "Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville: A Sesquicentennial Celebration." Soon, he will give you a sense of what this groundbreaking conference aims to accomplish as part of his presentation.

At this time, Professor Otter is working on several new books, tentatively entitled Philadelphia Stories and Pieces and Parts: The Quest for the Literary in Melville. He has been co-editing numerous works as well, including Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville: Essays in Relation, the special Michael Rogin issue of Representations 84 (March 2004), and the special Melville and Disability issue of Leviathan (2005).

This is Professor Otter's first visit to Japan, and he is here thanks to his partner Professor Caverlee Cary who teaches Geographical Information Science at UC-Berkeley. When I learned that he was accompanying Professor Cary on her way to a conference at Kyoto University to give a paper on "The Possibility of GIS (Geographical Information System) / RS (Remote Sensing) Technology in Historical Studies and Mapping" on March 24, 2005, I asked Professor Otter if he could find the time to give a lecture for us at the monthly meeting of our Society. I'm very gratified that he is here today, having very generously accepted this offer.

Before turning the lectern over to Professor Otter, let me briefly explain the unusual threefold structure of today's presentation. As avid readers of Professor Otter's writings probably already know, his work is deeply informed by a variety of writers and topics and disciplines. A quick glance at Melville's Anatomies will quickly reveal the extent to which he is familiar not only with Melville but also with Melville's contemporaries, including Lydia Maria Child, Frederick Douglass, Fanny Fern, Donald Grant Mitchell, and George W. Curtis. Since our Society has to date sponsored other Melville lectures by Professor Robert Lee and Professor Toshio Yagi, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to do something a bit different. I asked Professor Otter to discuss Melville while demonstrating the multi-layered approach and structure of his American literary and cultural scholarship, giving us the chance not only to enjoy Melville's anatomies but also to glimpse into the inner workings of Professor Otter's own scholarly anatomies. That is why today's lecture is made up of three sections, beginning first of all with a talk on Melville's Moby-Dick in the post-9.11 political milieu; going on to give a few notes on the upcoming Melville-Douglass Conference; and concluding with introductory remarks about his project on Philadelphia literature, with a focus on the postmodern African American writer John Edgar Wideman.

So now, let me turn the discussion over to you, Professor Otter.

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