1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

John O'Brien

Associate Professor and NEH Daniels Family Distinguished Teaching Professor

429 Bryan Hall

Office Hours:

W 1:00 - 2:00
R 12:00 - 2:00

Class Schedule:

MW 11:00 - 11:50

Degrees

Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1995
M.A. University of Chicago, 1990
B.A. Williams College, 1984

My written work has focused on the relationship between literary and other social forms in the long eighteenth century in Britain. In my book Harlequin Britain, I explore the relationship between pantomime entertainments--the most popular form of theatrical performance in the period--and the public sphere. My current work focuses on the relationship between literature and economics in Britain and American in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in particular on the emergence of the corporation as an economic and imagined entity, and the ramifications of that in genres like insurance and money. I teach classes in eighteenth-century drama and the novel, as well as courses in the transatlantic eighteenth century and the literature of the seventeen-nineties.
 

Specialties

18th C British, Digital Humanities, Early American, Restoration

Digital Projects

Notes on the State of Virginia

A digital variorum edition of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia. Newly transcribed and annotated, edited with Brad Pasanek and Virginia Anne Kinniburgh, in cooperation with U.Va. Scholars' Lab

Articles

  • "Institutional Structures," in Cultural History of Theatre in the Enlightenment, ed. Mechele Leon (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2017)
  • "Shakespeare and Pantomime," in The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, ed. Bruce Smith (January 2016)
  • "Pantomimic Politics," in The Oxford Handbook of the Georgian Theatre 1737-1832, ed. Julia Swindells and David Francis Taylor (Oxford, 2014)
  • "This is Not a Book: Thomas Jefferson & Apple's App Store," co-authored with Brad Pasanek, Chronicle of Higher Education (September 4, 2013)
  • "Insurance, Risk, and the Problem of Sentimental Representation," Journal of Cultural Economics (2011)
  • "Pantomime," in The Cambridge Companion to the British Stage, 1740-1830, ed. Jane Moody and Daniel O'Quinn (Cambridge, 2007)
  • "John Locke, Desire, and the Epistemology of Money," British Journal for the History of Philosophy (Fall 2007)
  • Guest Editor, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, special issue on Theater and Theatricality (2004)
  • "Drama: Genre, Gender, Theater," in Blackwell's Concise Companion to the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, ed. Cynthia Wall (Blackwell, 2004)
  • "Busy Bodies: The Plots of Susanna Centlivre," in Eighteenth-Century Genre and Culture: Serious Reflections on Occasional Forms: Essays on Eighteenth-Century Literature and Genre in Honor of J. Paul Hunter, ed. Cynthia Wall and Dennis Todd (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2001), 165-89
  • "Harlequin Britain: Eighteenth-Century British Pantomime and the Cultural Location of Entertainment(s)," Theatre Journal (December 1998)
  • "Union Jack: Amnesia and the Law in Daniel Defoe's Colonel Jack," Eighteenth-Century Studies (Fall 1998)
  • "Grub Street: The Literary and the Literatory in Eighteenth-Century Britain," in Teaching the Eighteenth Century: Three Courses (1998); reprinted in Teaching Literature: From Pedagogy to Practice, ed. Ann Dean and Tanya Agathocleous (2003)
  • "The Character of Credit: Daniel Defoe's Lady Credit, The Fortunate Mistress and the Resources of Inconsistency," ELH 63 (Fall 1996): 603-31

Conferences

  • “Police, Insurance, Smollett,” Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, October 2008
  • “Serial Form and the Insurantial Imaginary,” American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, April 2007
  • “Infamous Harlequin Mimicry:  Apprentices and the Mass Audience,” University of Colorado Center for the Humanities, March 2003 (invited)                       
  • “Why Was Harlequin’s Face Black?” American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Meeting, New Orleans, April 2001                       
  • “The South Sea Bubble as Turning Point,” meeting of International Society for Intellectual History, Chicago, IL, September 21-24, 2000                       
  • “Response:  Defoe and Joyce,” panel on "Defoe and the Revised Version of the Rise of the Novel," 10th Congress on the Enlightenment, Dublin, Ireland, July 1999                       
  • “Susanna Centlivre and the Reception of the Popular,” NEASECS Annual Meeting, Williamstown, Mass., September 1998                       
  • “That's Entertainment!  The Cultural Work of Entertainment in the Eighteenth-Century World,” panel organizer and chair, ASECS, Notre Dame, IN, April 1998                       
  • “New Approaches to Teaching the Eighteenth Century,” panelorganizer and chair, SCASECS, San Antonio, TX, February 1998

Honors

  • NEH Daniels Family Distinguished Teaching Professor, 2014-17
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, 2000-2001
  • University of Virginia Sesquicentennial Fellow, 2000-2001
  • University of Virginia Teaching Fellow, 1999-2000
  • Fletcher Jones Fellow, The Huntington Library, Summer 1997
  • American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Course Construction Award, 1996-1997
  • Fellow, Interdisciplinary Group for Humanities Studies, Texas A & M University, 1996-1998
  • Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 1994-1995
  • Maclean Instructorship, The University of Chicago, Winter 1994