Candidate Profile

Provided by

Anthropology & Cultural Studies
Vikings & Scandinavia
Emeritus Professor of English, Dr. C.W. Sullivan III is retired from the English Department at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, USA. Among his honors there, he was named Distinguished Research Professor of Arts and Sciences at ECU, ECU Board of Trustees Distinguished Research Professor of English, and UNC Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching. He is also a Full Member of the Welsh Academy for his contributions to the study of medieval Welsh Celtic myth and literature, a past president of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, and the former editor of the ejournal, Celtic Cultural Studies.

He has written or edited 10 books, including "Welsh Celtic Myth in Modern Fantasy," "The 'Mabinogi:' A Book of Essays," "Fenian Diary: Denis B. Cashman on board the 'Hougoumont,' 1867-1868," and "Heinlein’s Juvenile Novels: A Cultural Dictionary," over 50 refereed articles, including “Reconsidering the Convict Ships, 1788-1868,” “Folklore and Fantastic Literature,” “Cultural Worldview: Marginalizing the Fantastic in the Seventeenth Century,” and “Inheritance and Lordship in 'Math'” [the Fourth Branch of the 'Mabinogi'], over 100 commissioned articles, lots of conference papers and book reviews, and so on.

In 2008, he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Debrecen University, Hungary, and he is currently a visiting professor in Hollins University’s Summer Graduate Program in Children’s Literature. He now lives in a log cabin near Floyd, VA, USA, with his lovely wife, oral historian Sheree Scarborough.

More information can be found at

Selected Invited Lectures:

“The Influence of 'The Mabinogion' on Fantastic Literature,” The Welsh Academy, Abergavenny, Wales, UK, 1996.

“'The Mabinogi' and the Counter Culture,” Celtic Cultures Conference, The University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, 1999.

“J.K. Rowling and Ursula K. Le Guin: Creating the Series Book Fantasy World,” New Worlds Conference, Children’s Books Ireland, Dublin, 2000.

“Denis B. Cashman and His Diary,” Celtic Studies Symposium, University of Sydney, Australia, 2003.

“'The Mabinogi' and Matrilineal Power,” Medieval Studies Department, University of Sydney, Australia, 2003.

“Macbeth: A Political and Cultural Document,” Eger University, Eger, Hungary, 2008.

“Children’s Oral Poetry: Identity and Obscenity,” Poetry and Childhood Conference, The British Library, London, 2009.

“Tolkien’s Sources: Celtic and Scandinavian,” NEH Summer Seminars: Texas A&M University, 2005 & 2009.

“What’s Fantastic About Fantastic Literature,” Hollins University, Roanoke, VA, 2013.

“Robert A. Heinlein: Building and Defending the Empire,” International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Orlando, FL, 2014.

“Macbeth: A Man Out of His Time,” Roanoke Public Library, Roanoke, VA, 2016.

I believe that the titles of the selected invited lectures above are, for the most part, fairly self-explanatory. So, let me say that I can speak on a variety of topics from the ancient and medieval Scandinavian and Celtic myths and legends (and the cultures in which they circulated) that have occupied the major part of my scholarly interest for more than 50 years, through the ways in which Medieval and Renaissance literatures illustrate the cultural shift from a medieval worldview to the modern worldview (the seventeenth century now being considered the pre-modern era) and my belief that of all of Shakespeare’s plays Macbeth captures that medieval-to-modern shift is its essential elements, to modern fantastic literature (i.e., fantasy and science fiction) that, more than contemporary realistic literature, deals with the major practical and philosophical issues of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries.

In short, I can present (and have presented) entertaining and educational lectures on these topics—medieval Celtic and Scandinavian literatures and cultures, the change in worldview in Renaissance England, and the history and significance of recent fantastic literature. I also do have a few things to say about nineteenth-century Fenianism in Ireland, the transportation of Irish political prisoners to Australia, and the histories of some of those prisoners when they escaped or were pardoned and came to the United States of America.
I lectured on board the Viking Star during a Viking Homelands Cruise in May-June of 2017. I spoke about Tolkien and the dragon slayer tale that dates back to the ancient Thor and the Midgard Serpent tale, on Tolkien and other fantasy writers' discovery of Northern European myth and legend in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and on Macbeth as a traditional Heroic Age hero in a time too complex for such heroes. I particularly enjoyed talking with people after the lectures and in such casual spots as hallways, restaurants, and lounges, and I was very pleased with the number of people who came up, introduced themselves, and engaged me in conversation.

In May of 2018, I lectured on board the Viking Sun during a British Isles Discovery Cruise. I spoke about "King Arthur," his Celtic origins, and the books and movies that have appeared since Malory's "Morte d'Arthur," on "Celtic Myth: Irish and Welsh," discussing the major cycles of the Irish stories and the oldest materials from "The Mabinogion" as they provided a window into the cultural development of the Irish and the Welsh, and I repeated my lecture on Macbeth as a man out of his time. Once again, I enjoyed the ambience of the cruise that allowed me to talk with people immediately after the lectures as well as in such more casual spots as mentioned above; again, I was pleased with the number of people who introduced themselves and engaged me in conversation.

September of 2018 found me on the Viking Sea for an "In the Wake of the Vikings Cruise" from Bergen, Norway, to Montreal, Canada, a trip that traced the routes the Vikings took from Norway, through the Shetland Islands, to Iceland, Greenland, and North America. I talked about "Strong Women in Icelandic Sagas and Scandinavian Mythology" and on "The Discovery of America: The Vinland Sagas and The Navagatio Brendini" among other topics. One of the most special moments for me was the stop at "L'Anse aux Meadows" in Newfoundland to visit the archeological find that proved the Vikings had arrived in North America long before Christopher Columbus. As on previous voyages, I very much enjoyed the interactions with the people who attended my lectures and engaged me later with questions and comments.

In January of 2019, I boarded the Viking Sea in London for its very first trip above the Arctic Circle "In Search of the Northern Lights." As we left British waters, I again lectured on "King Arthur: From Celtic Legend to Modern Film." Later in the cruise, I presented a lecture on "Ancient Scandinavian Tales & Modern Crime Novels" that discussed the ancient traditions on which Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo have drawn for such modern "noir" fiction as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "The Snowman." High points of that voyage included a twilight showshoe hike near Tromso, downhill skiing near Narvik, and a fantastic midnight display of the northern lights near Alta.I loved everything about the trip, even the weather. As always, I was very pleased to engage with people in hallways and dining rooms and discuss my talks and other topics with them.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Sky SK190113 In Search of the Northern Lights 12 Tilbury Sunday, January 13, 2019
Viking Star ST180922 In the Wake of the Vikings 14 Bergen Saturday, September 22, 2018
Viking Sun SU180505 British Isles Explorer 14 Greenwich, London Saturday, May 5, 2018
Viking Star ST170520 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Saturday, May 20, 2017