Maurice J. O'Sullivan


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Maurice J. O'Sullivan, or Socky [short for Socrates] as he prefers to be called, came to Rollins College in 1975 as a professor of English specialized in eighteenth century literature. He is also an editor, mentor, and College Marshal.     

O'Sullivan grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, in the St. Aloysius area. He earned his bachelor's degree at Fairfield University and went on to receive his master's degree and Ph.D. from Western Reserve University. Afterward, he taught for several years at Ohio State University before joining the faculty at Rollins. 

Eventually, O'Sullivan became the chair of the English Department and chair of the Humanities Division at Rollins. In addition to teaching courses ranging from Irish Studies to Jane Austen: Fiction and Film, he was an advisor for students. O'Sullivan also co-hosted a Summer Teachers Institute for middle and high school teachers. Noted for his cross discipline style of teaching, O'Sullivan was named Kenneth Curry Professor of Literature in 1999. Some of his other distinctions include: a silver medal from the 1987 National Professor of the Year Competition, seven years on the Executive Board for the Florida College English Association which culminated in his position as president of that body in 2001-2002, and the Bornstein Award for Faculty Scholarship in 2004-2005.

O'Sullivan's academic interests include Shakespeare, Irish culture, religion, education, Florida, and popular culture. O'Sullivan has contributed to numerous publications in either the role of author or editor. A few of these works include: The Florida Reader (with Jack Lane), Crime Fiction & Film in the Sunshine State:  Florida Noir, Florida in Poetry A History of the Imagination, The Books of Job, FIAT LUX: Teaching in Paradise, Shakespeare Plays the Classroom, Shakespeare's Other Lives Fictional Depictions of the Bard, Orange Pulp, and the rediscovered 1855 novel A Trip to Florida for Health and Sport. He also wrote numerous specials for  The Orlando Sentinel, several of which celebrated Irish heritage.

Starting off, can you please tell us a little bit about your family background and what it was like growing up in New Jersey?

  • "...And she was a wonderful crusty, flinty old lady who would sit any of her grandchildren who was speaking too much like the rest of the kids in Jersey City next to her–she had a gigantic diamond ring, and during dinner, if any of us used colloquialisms like “erl” for oil–put some erl in my car, or “de” for the–dis and dat, or even expressions like “you know”, she would whack us..."







  • "...And we went around to Central Florida pubs in alternating weeks and would have our discussion. Class was in the afternoon, so it wasn’t really interfering with other people. And the Orlando Sentinel wanted a St. Patrick’s Day story, so one of the reporters came out..."

  • "...Sat down and spent the next hour and a half talking about the fact that they were not anti-black, they were pro-white. They were giving all the nonsense that the clan and white supremacist groups do, never used any derogatory language or making political and economic cases, express their support for black separatist movements..."




  • "...I actually think one of the great loses was when Rollins closed down the Tar Pit, which was a pub, which is now the basement of the library–I’m sorry, bookstore–the basement of the bookstore, which was a wonderful place. When I first came, I met students there, people would go there, many of them didn’t drink, but they would go there..."




  • "...Nobody would touch me because a rumor started in the Italian neighborhood that there was a kid in the Irish neighborhood was so tough that he became a professional fighter at eleven and his name was Socky. And when I eventually met Italians, they would say, Are you the Socky O’Sullivan, were you really a professional fighter? I was just a pudgy little kid..."

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O’Sullivan Discusses his Irish Studies Class

O’Sullivan Discusses Inviting the Grand Dragon to Come  Speak to his Class

O’Sullivan Discusses the Tar Pit

 Now, that nickname of yours, Socky, short for Socrates, when did you start using that? When did that nickname for you come about?