College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

2008 Humanities Teacher of the Year Delivers Lecture on Middle Ages

References to the Middle Ages conjure up images of jousting knights, seafaring Vikings, stone castles and religious crusades.

Presented each fall to distinguished humanities scholars throughout the state, the award is part of an annual celebration of Arts and Humanities Month by the Mississippi Humanities Council. O’Sullivan is associate professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages. “I am honored to receive this recognition from the Mississippi Humanities Council,” O’Sullivan said. “Teaching in the humanities is a labor of love, so it’s gratifying when an outside entity takes notice of your work.”

In connection with the honor, O’Sullivan is scheduled to deliver a free, public lecture and receive a $500 honorarium. The lecture, “Medieval Studies: The Humanities Middle Child,” starts at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory.

“Everyone understands the value of studying the classics like Homer and Plato, and we all understand how hip and exciting modern literature is in academics,” O’Sullivan said. “The Middle Ages, however, falls in between, and medievalists tend to toil in obscurity.”

O’Sullivan even admits that he did not intend, at first, to pursue medieval academic studies; he strictly wanted to focus on modern French literature.

Today, O’Sullivan’s areas of specialization include work in romance philology, music, literature and manuscript studies.

“Before the 17th century, people didn’t know that blood circulated through the body or about atoms,” O’Sullivan said. “But they were intrigued with the order of the universe and order of society. When we study about this era, then we get a better understanding of our own universe and society.”

Earlier this year, O’Sullivan was named UM’s 2008 College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher of the Year. His storied career as an Ole Miss professor since 2002 demonstrates that he is one of the finest educators the university has to offer, said Donald Dyer, chair of modern languages.

“Dr. O’Sullivan is a demanding and caring professor, the kind of teacher all students should have the pleasure of learning from at least once in their college career,” Dyer said.

O’Sullivan, who obtained his doctoral degree from Boston College, is the 14th UM professor to receive the Humanities Teacher of the Year honor.

For more information about the upcoming lecture or to request assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7298. To learn more about the Department of Modern Languages, visit https://www.olemiss.edu/depts/modern_languages/ .