Shannon Bow O’Brien

Shannon Bow O’Brien, PhD is a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin.  She specializes in American Politics with an emphasis on American presidency and political development.  She has a bachelor’s and a master’s from the University of Louisville and her PhD from the University of Florida.

Her research has two primary areas of focus: presidential speeches and early American development.  She is very interested in presidential speech locations throughout the United States.  She believes you can develop a better understanding of administration priorities and actions by looking the larger patterns of places they choose to spend time.  She engages in research that looks at how indentured servants, transported felons, and other less wealthy populations influenced constitutional development.  Large numbers of these groups were routinely denied rights from colonial days to well past the American founding.  Decisions to curtail their participation left an indelible mark on our country.

She teaches a wide range of courses including Urban Politics, Social Movements, and Politics and Film which all look at how individuals shape systems and influence the world around them.

She is also an avid genealogist who at times believes she is related to most of southeastern Kentucky and Virginia.  Her interest in genealogy has at times fueled her academic interests.  She descends partially from well-known families, such as the Taylors, which are tied to the Washingtons, Madisons, and Lewises.  She also has links to families such as the Pinchbacks which produced the first non-white Governor in the United States.  However, while these families are well documented, she descends from far more less wealthy relations who migrated across the United States looking for land and better lives.  Her research into these families often bears little resemblance to portrayals of the poor on the emerging frontier and she is academically interested in what sorts of choices and systems drove these families West in the late 18th century.

She lives with her husband and very spoiled dog in Austin, Texas.  She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and also on the board of the Friends of Brush Square which advocates for that park in downtown Austin.