Sean O'Sullivan

Associate Professor of English
Affiliated Faculty in Italian

Sean O'Sullivan is Associate Professor of English, Core Faculty in Project Narrative, and a member of the Film Studies Program. He is the author of Mike Leigh (2011), a volume in the Contemporary Film Directors series from the University of Illinois Press. His articles and book chapters on serial narrative and television include such topics as: The Sopranos and episodic storytelling; modernist structure in Mad Men; poetic design and the serial season; Deadwood and Charles Dickens; third seasons; satisfaction; and the neglected showrunner Ingmar Bergman. Before entering graduate school, he worked as a sportswriter for The Boston Globe and as a production staffer on several films in New York City.

Selected publications

"Ingmar Bergman, Showrunner." Serialization in Popular Culture. Eds. Rob Allen and Thijs van den Berg. New York: Routledge, 2014. 106-121.
"Serials and Satisfaction." Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net 63 (2013).
The Sopranos: Episodic Storytelling." How to Watch Television. Eds. Ethan Thompson and Jason Mittell. New York: New York University Press, 2013. 65-73.
"Bridges and gaps: The Singing Detective's serial afterlife." Journal of Screenwriting 4.3 (2013): 273-285.
“Space Ships and Time Machines: Mad Men and the Serial Condition.” Mad Men: Dream Come True TV. Ed. Gary R. Edgerton. London: I. B. Tauris, 2011. 115-130.  Awarded Honorable Mention for Best Essay in an Edited Collection, 2012, by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.
Mike Leigh, in the University of Illinois Press series on Contemporary Film Directors. 2011.
"Broken on Purpose: Poetry, Serial Television, and the Season." Storyworlds 2 (2010): 59-77.
The Decalogue and the Remaking of American Television.” After Kieslowski: The Legacy of Krzysztof Kieslowski. Ed. Steven Woodward. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2009. 202-225.
“Reconnoitering the Rim: Thoughts on Deadwood and Third Seasons.” Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives. Ed. Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2009. 323-332.
“No Such Thing As Society: Television and the Apocalypse.” Fires Were Started: British Cinema and Thatcherism. 2nd edition. Ed. Lester Friedman. London: Wallflower Press, 2006. 223-242.
“Old, New, Borrowed, Blue: Deadwood and Serial Fiction.” Reading Deadwood. Ed. David Lavery. London: I. B. Tauris, 2006. 115-129.

Online posts

"Living in the Not Knowing: Mad Men 7:6." Kritik. May 19, 2014.

“Story Land: Breaking Bad 5:15." Kritik. September 23, 2013.

“The Pause That Refreshes; Mad Men 6:7.” Kritik. May 13, 2013.

“The Idea of the End of a Thing.” In Media Res. April 26, 2012.

Areas of Expertise
  • British Romantic & Victorian Literature
  • Film Studies
  • Narrative Theory
  • Ph.D., Yale University, 2000
  • B.A., University of Bristol, Marshall Scholar, 1990
  • A.B., Princeton University, 1988

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