Professor Otter is a specialist in modern British history, with particular focus on the history of science, technology and public health, environmental history and the history of food. His first book, The Victorian Eye: A Political History of Light and Vision in Britain, 1800-1910, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2008. He has published articles in numerous journals, including the Journal of British Studies, Cultural Geographies, Food and History, and History of Technology.
He is currently completing Diet for a Large Planet: Food Systems, World-Ecology, and the Making of Industrial Britain, which will be published by the University of Chicago Press. This book is global in focus, and explores the causes, consequences, and experience of a shift to a diet rich in animal protein, wheat, and sugar. These consequences include novel regulatory systems, geostrategic visions, bodily transitions and ecological vulnerabilities.
Professor Otter is also working on two new projects. The first is a deep history of our planet’s “newest sphere” – the technosphere. This history will be told by utilizing a fivefold scalar structure: equipment, capsules, networks, anthromes and anthropogenic sinks. The second is an exploration of the relationship between technology and neurodiversity since 1800. Both histories aim to situate our ecological, biological, phenomenological and psychological relationship with our technological niche within a deeper historical context.
Professor Otter has received numerous awards and honours. The Victorian Eye received the 2009 Morris D. Forkosch Prize from the American Historical Association and the 2008 Sonia Rudikoff Prize from the Northeast Victorian Studies Association. He received the 2010 Paul W. Brown Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching in the Departments of English and History, and he has been the recipient of several fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.
View Professor Otter's discussion about the history of science, technology and environment here.