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Dr. Nell Sullivan

Dr. Nell Sullivan

Dr. Nell Sullivan

Professor of EnglishEnglish


Nell Sullivan grew up in Frankfort, Kentucky. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University and earned a PhD in English from Rice University. Having served in various ranks since joining the English Department as an adjunct instructor in 1990, she was promoted to Professor of English in 2013. She also served as the editor of The Cormac McCarthy Journal from 2003-2005 and as editor of UHD's SACSCOC Compliance Report Editor in 2015-2016

Degrees Earned

1995 PhD English, Rice University

1989 MA in English, Rice University
1986 BA in English, magna cum laude, Vanderbilt University

Courses Taught

  • UHD 1304 Freshman Seminar: Zombies across the Curriculum
  • Eng 1301 Composition I
  • Eng 1302 Composition II
  • Eng 2302 Survey of World Literature, Neo-Classical to Modern
  • Eng 2311 Survey of American Literature to 1865
  • Eng 2312 Survey of American Literature 1865 to Present
  • Eng 3302 Business and Technical Report Writing
  • Eng 3306 Introduction to Literary Theory
  • Eng 3364 U.S. Literature and Culture after 1900
  • Eng 3312 Studies in Fiction
  • Eng 3353 Social Class and Literature
  • Eng 4311 Contemporary Literature
  • Eng 4312 Literature of the American South and Southwest
  • Eng 4313 Psychology through Literature

Experience Qualifications

Dr. Sullivan has a PhD in English with a specialty in American literature from Rice University, where she completed a dissertation on psychoanalytic interpretations of race in the twentieth-century American novel. As a scholar, she has focused primarily on American (especially Southern) fiction and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on various American novelists and critical theory in peer-reviewed collections and journals such as The African American Review, Southern Quarterly, Mississippi Quarterly, Genre, and Critique. Much of her scholarship focuses in particular on the novels of Cormac McCarthy and his treatment of gender. She is a former editor of the Cormac McCarthy Journal and currently serves on the journal's editorial board. Since the 1990s, she has shared her scholarly expertise with students by teaching courses in American literature, Southern literature, critical theory, and composition at UHD.


UHD Faculty Member, 1994- Present

SACSCOC Compliance Report Editor, University of Houston-Downtown, 2015-2016

Assistant Chair for Administration, University of Houston-Downtown, Department of English, 1998-2000; 2007-2009

President, UHD Faculty Senate, 2002-2004

Editor, Cormac McCarthy Journal, 2002-2005. Editorial Board member, 2006-Present.

More Information

Research Interests

Nell Sullivan's academic interests include the American novel and the literature of the American South. Much of her scholarly work has focused on gender representations in the novels of Cormac McCarthy. Her current research also focuses on the issues of social class and cultural capital in contemporary American fiction.


"The Excluded Woman in The Road." Carrying the Fire: Cormac McCarthy's The Road and the Apocalyptic Tradition. Casebook Studies in Cormac McCarthy, Volume 4. Ed. Rick Wallach. The Cormac McCarthy Society, forthcoming.

"Cormac McCarthy: Prophesy and Metaphysics." Review of True and Living Prophet of Destruction: Cormac McCarthy and Modernity, Nicholas Monk, and A Bloody and Barbarous God: The Metaphysics of Cormac McCarthy, by Petra Mundik. Western American Literature 52.2 (2017): 213-217.

"The Hacendado's Daughter." Beyond Borders: Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses. Casebook Studies in Cormac McCarthy, Volume 3. Ed. Rick Wallach. Miami, FL: The Cormac McCarthy Society, 2014. 62-74.

"Picturebook Horses: The Problem of Cultural Capital in All the Pretty Horses." Beyond Borders: Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses. Casebook Studies in Cormac McCarthy, Volume 3. Ed. Rick Wallach. Miami, FL: The Cormac McCarthy Society, 2014. 264-273.

"Katherine Dunn's Geek Love and the Vicissitudes of Class." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. 54.4 (2013): 410-421.

"The Good Guys: McCarthy's The Road as Post-9/11 Male Sentimental Novel." Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture 46.1 (Spring 2013): 79-101.

"Gender in McCarthy's Fiction." Critical Insights: Cormac McCarthy. Ed. David Cremean. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, 2012. 198-217.

Review of The Western Landscape in Cormac McCarthy and Wallace Stegner: Myths of the Frontier, by Megan Riley McGilchrist. The Cormac McCarthy Journal 8.1 (2010): 88-91.

"Nella Larsen's Passing and the Fading Subject." Twentieth Century Literature Criticism, Vol. 200. Ed. Tom Schoenberg. New York: Gale-Cengage, 2008. 114-24. (Reprint)

"Editor's Column." The Cormac McCarthy Journal 3 (2003): 4-5.

"Academic Constructions of 'White Trash,' or, How to Insult the Lower Classes Without Really Trying." Reclaiming Class: Women, Poverty, and the Promise of Education in America. Ed. Sandra Dahlberg and Vivian Adair. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2003. 53-66.

Review of Dixie Limited: Railroads, Culture, and the Southern Renaissance, by Joseph R. Millichap. Journal of Southern History 69.2 (May 2003): 499.

"Cormac McCarthy and the Text of Jouissance." Sacred Violence, Volume 1: Cormac McCarthy's Appalachian Works. Second Edition. Eds. Wade Hall and Rick Wallach. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 2002. 153-61. (Reprint)

Review of Cormac McCarthy's Western Novels, by Barcley Owens. The Cormac McCarthy Journal 2 (2002): 59-60.

"Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Be Gone: The Circuit of Male Desire in the Border Trilogy." A Cormac McCarthy Companion: The Border Trilogy. Ed. Edwin T. Arnold and Dianne C. Luce. Jackson: U P of Mississippi, 2001. 228-55. (Reprint)

"The Evolution of the Dead Girlfriend Motif in Outer Dark and Child of God." Cormac McCarthy: Myth, Legend, Dust. Ed. Richard Wallach. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester UP, 2000. 68-77.

"Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Be Gone: The Circuit of Male Desire in the Border Trilogy." Southern Quarterly 38.3 (Spring 2000): 167-185.

Review of Southern Odyssey: Selected Writings by Sherwood Anderson, edited by Welford Dunaway and Charles E. Modlin. Journal of Southern History 65.1 (February 1999): 193.

"Nella Larsen's Passing and the Fading Subject." African American Review 32.3 (1998): 373-386.

"Righting Irish Poetry: Eavan Boland's Revisionary Struggle." Colby Quarterly 33.4 (December 1997): 334-348.

"Persons in Pieces: Race and Aphanisis in Light in August." Mississippi Quarterly 49.3(1996): 497-517.

"Cormac McCarthy and the Text of Jouissance." Sacred Violence: A Reader's Companion to Cormac McCarthy. Ed. Wade Hall and Rick Wallach. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1995. 115-123.

Awards and Recognitions

Long-Term Faculty Development Leave, University of Houston-Downtown, 2011.

Organized Research Grants, University of Houston-Downtown, 2000, 2010.

UHD Award for Excellence in Professional Service, 2005.

UHD Toastmasters' "Best of the Bayou" Teaching Award, 1997.

Rice Presidential Recognition Award, 1986.

U.S. Presidential Scholar, 1982.