Stephen D. O'Leary

Associate Professor
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California 90089-0281

(213) 740-3945
Internet: soleary@rcf.usc.edu


EDUCATION

Northwestern University Field: Communication Studies Degrees: M.A., 1987; Ph.D., 1991 Advisor: G. Thomas Goodnight

Harvard University Major: Comparative Study of Religion (Honors Program) Degree: B.A., June 1981; Honors Thesis

UNIVERSITY EMPLOYMENT

Associate Professor (1996-present) University of Southern California

Assistant Professor (1991-1996) University of Southern California

Instructor (1989-1991) University of Southern California

Lecturer (1987-1989) Northwestern University

Lecturer (Spring 1988) Kellogg Graduate School of Management

Teaching Assistant (1985-1987) Northwestern University

RESEARCH SPECIALTIES

Religious communication, history of religion and media, apocalyptic, millennial and utopian rhetoric, persuasive and publicity strategies of religious organizations, cults and new religious movements, and ethics in contemporary political discourse.

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS

Member of: Speech Communication Association, American Academy of Religion, Western Communication Association, Religious Speech Communication Association, American Society for the History of Rhetoric.

BOOKS

Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric (Oxford University Press, 1994)

A Prescription for Millennium Fever (currently completing trade book manuscript under contract to Oxford University Press; scheduled for publication in 1998)

Give me That On-Line Religion: Cults, Churches and Community in the Information Age (with Brenda Brasher). Completing research for new trade book; proposal under development.

RESEARCH AWARDS AND GRANTS

Consultant for "Religion Online" project funded by the Annenberg Center for Communication, University of Southern California, 1995-96.

MDA-Hewlett Foundation Course Development Grant, University of Southern California, 1995- 96. To develop a new undergraduate course, "The Pursuit of the Millennium." Amount awarded: $5,000.

"Approaching the Millennium: Prediction, Prophecy, and the History of the Future." Project funded by the James H. Zumberge Faculty Research and Innovation Fund, University of Southern California, 1992-93. Amount awarded: $16,157.

Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Speech Communication Association, 1992.

Nichols-Ehninger Award from the Speech Communication Association, 1986.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE

Editorial Board Member and Reviewer for Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Western Journal of Communication , Argumentation and Advocacy, and the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Manuscripts and proposals reviewed for Oxford University Press, St. Martin's Press, Sage Press, University of Alabama Press, Houghton Mifflin, and The Canada Arts Council / Conseil des Arts du Canada.

REFEREED JOURNAL ARTICLES

"Cyberspace as Sacred Space: Communicating Religion on Computer Networks." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 64 (Winter 1996), 781-808.

O'Leary, Stephen, and Mark Wright. "Psychoanalysis and Burkean Rhetorical Rhetorical Criticism." Southern Journal of Communication 61 (Winter 1995), 104-122.

"The Problem of Evil Revisited: Theodicy Argument as Forensic Rhetoric." Philosophy and Rhetoric 29 (1996), 122-146.

"A Dramatistic Theory of Apocalyptic Rhetoric." Quarterly Journal of Speech 79 (1993), 385-426.

O'Leary, Stephen, and Michael McFarland. "The Political Use of Mythic Discourse: Prophetic Interpretation in Pat Robertson's Presidential Campaign," in Quarterly Journal of Speech 75 (November 1989), 433-452. (Selected as "Best of the Religious Speech Communication Association" at the 1987 RSCA National Convention in Boston.)

"The Planet of the Apes: The Fable of the Hundredth Monkey in Anti-Nuclear Discourse." Argumentation and Advocacy: The Journal of the American Forensic Association 25 (1988), 20- 30. (Nichols-Ehninger Award winner)

"Apocalyptic Argument and the Anticipation of Catastrophe: The Prediction of Risk and the Risks of Prediction." Accepted for publication in Argumentation, 1997; substantially revised version of same title below, selected by an international board for peer review.

BOOK CHAPTERS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS

Fisher, Walter, and Stephen D. O'Leary. "The Rhetorician's Quest." In Michael Salwen and Don Stacks, eds., An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research (Hillsdale, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum, 1996).

"Apocalyptic Argument and the Anticipation of Catastrophe: The Prediction of Risk and the Risks of Prediction." In Frans van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst, eds., Special Fields and Cases: Proceedings of the Third ISSA Conference on Argumentation (Amsterdam: Sic-Sat/International Society for the Study of Argumentation, 1995), 513-526.

O'Leary, Stephen, and Brenda E. Brasher. "The Unknown God of the Internet: Religious Communication from the Ancient Agora to the Virtual Forum." In Charles Ess, ed., Philosophical Approaches to Computer-Mediated Communication. (SUNY Press, 1996).

"Culture Wars and the Collaboration of Theory: The Case of Paul de Man." In Ray McKerrow, ed., Argument and the Postmodern Challenge: Proceedings of the Seventh SCA/AFA Conference on Argumentation (Annandale, VA: Speech Communication Association, 1993).

Leslie, Andrew, and Stephen O'Leary. "Rhizomic Rhetoric: Toward an Ecology of Institutional Argument." In Donn Parsons, ed., Argument in Controversy: Proceedings of the Seventh SCA/AFA Conference on Argumentation (Annandale, VA: Speech Communication Association, 1991).

"Machiavelli and the Paradox of Political Hypocrisy: The Fragmentation of Virtue in the Public and Private Spheres." In Bruce Gronbeck,, ed., Spheres of Argument: Proceedings of the Sixth SCA/AFA Conference on Argumentation (Annandale, VA: Speech Communication Association, 1989), 117-127.

"Reading the Signs of the Times: Strategies of Argument in Apocalyptic Discourse." In Joseph Wenzel, ed., Argument and Critical Practices: Proceedings of the Fifth SCA/AFA Conference on Argumentation (Annandale, VA: Speech Communication Association, 1987), 523-532.

BOOK REVIEWS

O'Leary, Stephen. Review of Steven G. Jones, ed., CyberSociety: Computer-Mediated Communication and Community (Sage, 1995), published in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 1:1.

O'Leary, Stephen. Review of Mark C. Taylor and Esa Saarinen, Imagologies: Media Philosophy (Routledge, 1994), published in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 1:2.

O'Leary, Stephen. Review of David Potter, Prophets and Emperors: Human and Divine Authority from Augustus to Theodosius (Harvard University Press, 1994). Forthcoming in Quarterly Journal of Speech.

WORKS UNDER REVIEW OR IN PROGRESS

"Popular Culture and Apocalypticism." Essay under contract for the Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, ed. Bernard McGinn. Scheduled for publication by Continuum Press, 1997.

"When Prophecy Fails and When it Succeeds: A Critique of Festinger's Model of Cognitive Dissonance as Applied to Apocalyptic Religious Movements." Forthcoming in a volume edited by Albert Baumgarten, Bar-Ilan University, to be published Jacob Taube Center for Religious Anthropology in association with an Israeli press.

"The Doomsday Clock: The Social Construction of Time and Global Risk in the Anti-Nuclear Movement." (with Eric Doxtader; essay in progress)

"The Machiavellian Rhetoric of Psychological Warfare: Intelligence and Terrorism in Foreign Policy Debate." Essay in progress.

"The Auto-da-f of the Branch Davidians: Apocalyptic Drama as Media Spectacle." Essay in progress.

The Virtual Church: Religion in the Era of the Electronic Word. Book project currently in research phase.

GRANTS IN PROGRESS

"A Virtual Ethnography of Religious Communities in Cyberspace." Proposal submitted to Annenberg Center for Communication, University of Southern California, Spring 1995. Not funded. Currently being revised for submission to Lilly Foundation.

"The Interactive Millennium: An Oral/Digital History." Proposal submitted to Annenberg Center for Communication, University of Southern California, Spring 1995. Not funded. Currently being revised for submission to National Endowment for the Humanities.

SELECTED CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS & INVITED PAPERS

"The Digital Millennium: Technology, Progress, and Catastrophe in Computer-Mediated Apocalyptic Visions." Paper delivered at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, New Orleans, November 1996.

"Trading in Millennial Futures: A Critical View of the Current Apocalyptic Landscape." Paper delivered at the "Year 2000 Conference," Boston University, October 1996.

"When Prophecy Fails and When it Succeeds: Apocalyptic Prediction and the Re-Entry into Ordinary Time." Invited paper delivered at the conference on "Apocalyptic Time," Jacob Taube Center for Religious Anthropology, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv, Israel, February 1996.

"The Constitution of Virtual Community: Neopagan Rituals on Computer Networks." Paper presented at the International Conference on Media, Religion and Culture. Center for Mass Media Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, January 1996.

"Flames in Cyberspace: Argument and Ritual in Computer-Based Religious Communities." Presented at the Wake Forest Argumentation Conference, Wake Forest University, Winston- Salem, NC, March 1995.

"Suicide or Victimization? Theories of Coercive Persuasion at Jonestown and Waco." Presented at the Speech Communication Association Annual Convention, New Orleans, November 1994.

"Reinvigorating the Psychology of Rhetoric: Rhetorical Implications of Freudian Social Theory." Presented at the Speech Communication Association National Convention in Miami, November 1993.

Invited speaker and consultant for a conference on religious communication, "Mediating the Sacred in the New Millennium," Pasadena, October 1992.

Media Interviews, Appearances, and Consulting

March-April, 1997. Interviewed on National Public Radio, "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered"; quoted in feature articles in Time Magazine; Associated Press; Los Angeles Times; San Diego Union Tribune; Portland Oregonian; Contra Costa Times. On-camera interviews with CNN International, Japan-America Television, Fox Television, and cable program "Strange Universe." Talk show appearance on KPBS, San Diego program "These Days." Op-Ed piece in Los Angeles Times.

October, 1996. WBUR, Boston. Hour-long radio talk show appearance on Chris Leiden's "Connection." Quoted in feature article in Chicago Tribune.

January, 1996. Boulder (CO) Daily Camera, quoted with photo in feature article on internet religion.

December, 1995. US News and World Report, quoted in feature article on prophecy.

August, 1994. KPCC (Los Angeles, CA) Hour-long radio talk show appearance on Larry Mantle's "Air Talk." December, 1993. New York Times, quoted in article on "Marketing the Millennium."

April, 1993. CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, on-camera interview.

March, 1993. Interviewed on National Public Radio, Morning Edition. Op-Ed piece in Los Angeles Daily News; nationally syndicated via New York Times Wire Service. On-camera television interviews for Whittle Communications, "Channel One," and local news on KCOP & KGO, Los Angeles. Radio talk show appearances on KPBS, San Diego "These Days"; KPNX, Phoenix, "The John Dayle Show."

1993-1997: Consulting on occasional basis for network specials, "Mysteries of the Millennium" and "Ancient Prophecies"; Chris Carter's "Millennium" series on Fox network.