Socky O'Sullivan: A Leading Scholar of Florida Historical Literature

March 04, 2010








Socky O'Sullivan, Rollins CollegeMaurice “Socky” O’Sullivan, Kenneth Curry professor of literature, believes that disciplinary boundaries should be cracked. Rather than looking at a discipline with a single lens, O’Sullivan shares the same perspective of Academy-Award winning director James Cameron: “Everything now is in 3-D.”

This interdisciplinary view is evident in O’Sullivan’s scholarly pursuits.  Co-director of the Florida Center for Shakespeare Studies, he has written extensively on literature, Shakespeare, Florida, popular culture, Irish culture, religion, and education. He is the author, editor, and co-editor of more than a dozen books (including five on Florida) along with 40 peer-reviewed publications and has presented over 300 lectures on these areas of study.

Recently, O’Sullivan was chosen along with Associate Professor of Modern Foreign Languages Alberto Prieto-Calixto, to participate in the Florida Humanities Council (FHC) Scholar Summit on the 2013 Quincentennial held in St. Petersburg, Fla. The summit brought together forty prestigious Florida scholars and representatives of cultural organizations for a brainstorming session on the planning of the state’s 2013 Quincentennial celebration commemorating Ponce de Leon’s arrival in Florida. Scholars were invited to help shape a deeper understanding of both the historical and cultural importance of Florida’s relationship with Spain, which began almost 500 years ago.

During the summit, O’Sullivan led a discussion on the “Spanish Legacy in Florida Literature,” and Prieto-Calixto presented a lecture on “The Lingering Black Legend in Florida.” 

“It’s exciting that two Rollins scholars participated in this important conference celebrating such a significant milestone in Florida’s history,” said Dean of the Faculty Laurie Joyner. “Rollins is home to some of the state’s top experts in the fields of environmental studies, political science, literature, history, as well as modern languages and literatures.”

O’Sullivan’s interest in Florida history and literature came about in the 1980s when he realized that his sons were not receiving enough formal education about the state in which the lived—specifically its history and culture. At that time, there was not a lot written on Florida history, and he wanted to help his sons develop a “sense of roots” for their state—the same type of roots he developed growing up in Jersey City, N.J., where he learned first-hand about the history, politics, Irish culture and anecdotes of his hometown from his father.  O’Sullivan said his desire to increase his sons’ awareness of their state, along with his knowledge of early Florida literature, initiated his interest and research into Florida’s rich history.

To read more about O'Sullivan's work please visit the Arts & Sciences Web site.


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