Irish Studies Faculty

Sean O'Brien

Sean O'Brien

Director of Film Studies

Office: LA 145
Email: sean.o'
Fax: (406) 243-5313
Office Hours:

Monday & Wednesday 11-12:30; & by appointment

Current Position

I am currently Director of English/Film Studies, one of five options available for those majoring in English.


Fall 2010 courses:

ENFM/LS 180 - Intro to Film

ENFM 195 -  The Films of David Lynch

ENFM 395 - Film Studies Practicum

ENFM 443 - Documentary:    Theory and Practice

Personal Summary

I received my Ph.D. in philosophy,  and discovered early in my academic career that philosophy and film make great bedfellows.  Since then, I have drawn from the best of both arenas in structuring my philosophy and film studies courses.  I rely on philosophers to help students understand the great films, and use film to help illustrate great works in philosophy.   My production courses also have a strong philosophic bent, as it is often important for students to develop or discover the philosophic principles that undergird their dramas and documentaries.

I am also a documentary filmmaker.  My most recent documentary, "Be Thou Always as Guest," a portrait of a 91-year-old Montana rancher who began an impressive painting career at the age of 78,  aired on Montana PBS in May, 2010.


Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado/Boulder - 1989

MA in Philosophy from The University of Montana/Missoula - 1985

BA in Philosophy from The University of Montana/Missoula - 1981

I have taken numerous courses in film production.

Field of Study

Film Theory

Documentary Production


Teaching Experience

I believe in the value of interdisciplinary education, and I have taught courses cross-listed in a wide range of disciplines, including Philosophy, English, Media Arts, Communication and Environmental Studies.   At present, I  am responsible for teaching the following courses in the Film Studies Program.

ENFM/LS 180 - Intro to  Film

ENFM 427 - Film Theory

ENFM 443 - Documentary -  Theory and Practice

ENFM 495/MAR 495 - Making Movies - Just Do It!

ENFM 495/PHIL 444 - The Good, the Bad and the Indulgent::   Film and Virtue

WRIT 101 - Writing about Film


Courses that I have taught in the past include:

PHIL 200 - Ethics

PHIL 202 - Environmental Ethis

PHIL 210 - Logic

PHIL 427 - Ethics and the Environment

Comm 111 - Public Speaking

LS 381 - The Films of Stanley Kubrick


International Experience

I have taught two documentary production courses that involved overseas travel.  The first,"Stories from Ireland," was a course that resulted in five student-produced documentaries on Ireland.   The second, "The Galapogos Islands," was co-taught with then UM geneticist, Paul Spruell, and resulted in four productions, each documenting a different aspect of the islands.