Laura Otis, Professor

Primary Office: Callaway N306
Office Hours:
ON LEAVE, appointments by request
Office Phone:

At Emory Since: 


B.S., Yale University
M.A., University of California, San Francisco
Ph.D., Cornell University 
M. F. A., Warren Wilson College



Banned Emotions Clean
Rethinking Thought Networking
Mueller's Lab Membranes
Literature and Science Organic Memory
Vacation Stories

Laura OtisLaura Otis began her career as a scientist, earning her B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale in 1983 and her M.A. in Neuroscience from the University of California at San Francisco in 1988. Before receiving her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University in 1991, she worked in labs for eight years. Since 1986, she has been studying and teaching about the ways that scientific and literary thinking coincide and foster each other's growth. Otis works with British Victorian, Spanish, German, French, and North and South American literature, especially nineteenth-century novels. She is particularly interested in memory, identity formation, and communication technologies and has recently worked as a guest scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. In addition to her academic books, Otis has written six novels, including Clean. In 2000, she was awarded a MacArthur fellowship for creativity. Her latest book, Banned Emotions, will be available from Oxford University Press in March 2019.

Selected Publications:

  • Organic Memory: History and the Body in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

  • Membranes: Metaphors of Invasion in Nineteenth-Century Literature, Science, and Politics. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

  • Networking: Communicating with Bodies and Machines in the Nineteenth Century. University of Michigan Press, 2001.

  • Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Vacation Stories: Five Science Fiction Tales, University of Illinois Press, 2001 (Translator).

  • Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology, Oxford University Press, 2002 (Editor).

  • Müller's Lab, Oxford University Press, March 2007.

  • Rethinking Thought: Inside the Minds of Creative Scientists and Artists, Oxford University Press, 2016.

  • Banned Emotions: How Metaphors Can Shape What People Feel, Oxford University Press, 2019
  • Clean: A Novel, iUniverse, 2019