James Christopher O'Sullivan
May 1986 (age 33)
|Occupation||Writer, publisher, editor, academic|
James Christopher O'Sullivan (born May 1986) is an Irish writer, publisher, editor, and academic from Cork city. He is most notable as the author and editor of several critical texts, the Founding Editor of New Binary Press, the writer of three collections of poetry.
O'Sullivan is involved in the study of Digital Humanities, and has a particular interest in computer-assisted text analysis and new media studies. He has held faculty positions at various academic institutions, including Pennsylvania State University and the University of Sheffield. He currently lectures at University College Cork, part of the National University of Ireland.
O'Sullivan's scholarship has been published in a number of peer-reviewed academic journals and books, including Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (Oxford University Press), Leonardo (The MIT Press), Digital Humanities Quarterly, and Literary Studies in the Digital Age (Modern Language Association). He was shortlisted for the Fortier Prize for Digital Humanities research in 2014. He has edited several academic volumes, including Reading Modernism with Machines (Palgrave Macmillan 2016).
His various uses of stylometry to analyse the work of James Patterson have garnered significant media attention, most notably being cited by Anthony Lane in The New Yorker. O'Sullivan has contributed to a number of digital resources, including Zebrapedia, a project seeking to transcribe the entirety of Philip K. Dick's Exegesis.
In 2018, O'Sullivan publicly criticised Irish universities for focusing too much on commercially oriented "skills" to the detriment of critical thinking.
O'Sullivan founded New Binary Press in 2012, a publishing house dedicated to the publication of both print and electronic literature. New Binary Press has published a number of well-known authors, including Nick Montfort and Karl Parkinson. The venture has had a lot of critical success: Graham Allen's The One That Got Away was shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Award 2015, while Unexplained Fevers by Jeannine Hall Gailey came second in the 2014 Science Fiction Poetry Association's Elgin Award. In 2018, novelling, a work of recombinant fiction by Will Luers, Hazel Smith, and Roger Dean that is published by New Binary Press, won the ELO's Robert Coover Award for a Work of Electronic Literature, one of world's major prizes for screen-based literature. In 2016, one of the press' flagship works, Graham Allen's one-line-a-day digital poem, Holes, reached its 10-year anniversary. Irish literary scholar Kenneth Keating has argued that O'Sullivan's New Binary Press is one of the first publishers to cross "the division between online and print publishing in Irish poetry in a more progressive fashion", while Irish poet Matthew Geden has also praised the project: "...the press has published books by a number of new and interesting writers who are for one reason or another outside the current mainstream of Irish literature. Such projects are vital at a time when the poetry world here has been dominated by only a handful of presses and individuals. The emergence of new voices owes much to small publishers like New Binary and others...".
In early 2017, in an interview with Books Ireland magazine, O'Sullivan said that New Binary Press was operating at a loss, though he seemed confident of the press' future, claiming that "the value of dissonance outweighs that of cents". He has been vocal on the economic realities facing independent publishing houses, as well as an advocate of the role they play in the development of literary communities.
In the same article, O'Sullivan outlined his belief that Irish writing can come from many perspectives, and is simply "literature that is embedded in the very soul of our island".
Despite his profile as a digital publisher and scholar, O'Sullivan believes that print books have far greater "material and cultural importance" than digital formats, describing Kindle and iTunes as a "dangerous axis of power".
As a publisher, O'Sullivan has been critical of major literary competitions, particularly those which he deems to be under the influence of their commercial sponsors. He has called for "improved transparency" and "the removal of commercial influences" from literary competitions, arguing that "small publishers can't take risks on large entry fees if there is any doubt in their mind over how decisions are being made".
O'Sullivan's New Binary Press has published a number of works which explicitly express particular political sentiments. In 2017, the press published The Elysian: Creative Responses, an anthology of writings in response to Cork city's landmark Elysian building, a structure described as a "a symbol of the worst excesses of the Celtic Tiger". That same year, New Binary Press published John Barber's Remembering the Dead: Northern Ireland, which commemorates victims of The Troubles, and is based on a previous incarnation designed to raise awareness around gun violence in the US. In 2018, O'Sullivan's press published Autonomy, a project supporting Ireland's pro-choice movement. British writer Kit de Waal has associated New Binary Press with the publication of working class writers.
O'Sullivan's first collection of poetry, Kneeling on the Redwood Floor, was released by Lapwing Publications in 2011, a work which the author himself did not rate very highly. In 2014, Alba Publishing released his second collection, Groundwork, followed in 2017 by Courting Katie, published by Salmon Poetry. Reviewing Courting Katie, Dedalus poet Matthew Geden describes O'Sullivan as a "vibrant voice" that offers "timely reminders to look closer at the world around us". Writing in Poetry Ireland Review, Jessica Traynor likens O'Sullivan to a "latter-day Kavanagh" who "breathes life into deserted streets and grey city corners".
O'Sullivan's poetry has been published in a number of prestigious journals, magazines and periodicals, including The SHOp, Cyphers, Southword, and Crannóg.
In 2016, O'Sullivan was placed third in the Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize. He has twice been shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize, as well as the Fish Short Story Prize. He received a High Commendation in Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry 2014 International Chapbook Competition and 2013 Charles Macklin Poetry Prize.
O'Sullivan has contributed features and opinion pieces to a number of regional and national periodicals in Ireland and internationally, including The Guardian, the LA Review of Books, The Irish Times, and Cork Evening Echo.
O'Sullivan was born and raised in Cork city, Ireland, a place for which he has often expressed great affection, and featured in his work. He is the grandson of a locally famed performer, Billa O'Connell. O'Sullivan attended Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, though did not enjoy his time at school. He is a graduate of Cork Institute of Technology, University College Cork, and University College Dublin.
|Reading Modernism with Machines||Palgrave Macmillan||2016||978-1137595683|
|Courting Katie||Salmon Poetry||2017||978-1-910669-85-3|
|Kneeling on the Redwood Floor||Lapwing Publications||2011||978-1-907276-84-2|