Researchers at UCD

Cormac O'Brien

Lecturer In Anglo-Irish Drama

School of English, Drama & Film
School of English, Drama and Film
Newman Building
University College Dublin
Belfied, Dublin 4

Tel: +353 1 7168192


Cormac O'Brien lectures in Anglo-Irish Drama, Irish Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Medical Humanities. He joined the School of English, Drama and Film in the spring of 2016. Prior to this he was a part-time lecturer in Drama at Trinity College Dublin and at UCD.


Cormac is a founding member of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) Queer Futures working group. Cormac is active in the area of HIV/AIDS advocacy and community empowerment and is co-founder of the International working group for HIV in Performance, aka HIP. He is also on the organising committee for Queer at Queens, an annual two-day event in Belfast that, as part of the larger OutBurst Queer Arts Festival, brings together scholars, queer artists, and the public. He is also an active member of the Irish Society for Theatre Research (ISTR) and the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL).


Before coming to academia as a mature student in 2005, Cormac worked as a drama workshop facilitator and theatre director. He continues to be involved in workshop facilitation and has recently developed and delivered a series of drama workshops that explore HIV-related stigma. He is also involved in developing projects that bring performing artists and academics together and has recently worked with Dublin playwright and musician Neil Watkins.  



Cormac O'Brien (2018) Masculinities and Manhood in Contemporary Irish Drama: Acting the Man. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [Details]

Book Chapters

Cormac O'Brien (2017) 'New Century Theatre Companies: From Playwright to Collective' In: Eamonn Jordan and Eric Weitz (eds). The Plagrave Handbook of Contemporary Irish Theatre and Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2016) 'Queering the Irish Stage: Shame, Nation, and the Politics of Testimonial' In: Anne Etienne & Theirry DuBost (eds). Irish Theatre Since the 1990s: Populating the Stage. Basingstoke: Palgrave. [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2015) 'A Tallaght of the Mind: In Conversation with Mark O'Rowe' In: Emma Creedon and Sara Keating (eds). The Theatre and Films of Mark O'Rowe: Sullied Magnificence. Dublin: Carysfort Press. , pp.141-153 [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2014) 'Unblessed Amongst Women: Performing Patriarchy Without Men in Contemporary Irish Theatre' In: Christopher Collins and Mary Caulfield (eds). Ireland, Memory, and Performing the Historical Imagination. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. , pp.190-206 [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2014) 'Sons of the Tiger: Performing Neoliberalism, Post-Feminism, and Masculinity in Crisis in Contemporary Irish Theatre' In: Tony Tracy and Con Houlihan (eds). Masculinity and Irish Popular Culture: Tiger's Tales. Basingstoke: Palgrave. , pp.126-141 [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2011) 'The Afterlife of the Anti-Hero: Fantasies of Manhood and the Hierarchy of Masculine Agency in Conor McPherson¿s The Seafarer' In: Caroline Magennis and Raymond Mullen (eds). Irish Masculinities: Reflections on Literature and Culture. Dublin: Irish Academic Press. , pp.162-174 [Details]

Edited Books

Cormac O'Brien; John M Clum (Ed.). (2018) Sex, Gender, and Sexualities in Edward Albee¿s Plays: New Perspectives in Edward Albee Studies. Boston: Brill Rodophi. [Details]
Cormac O'Brien and Shonagh Hill (Ed.). (2016) Performance Ireland: Journal of the Irish Society for Theatre Research. Dublin: Carysfort Press. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

Cormac O'Brien (2016) 'Ireland in the Age of AIDS: The Cultural Politics of Stigma'. Irish Review, 53 :45-59. [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2016) 'HIV and AIDS in Irish Theatre: Queer Masculiniites, Punishment, and Post-AIDS Culture'. Journal of Medical Humanities, . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2014) 'Gay Masculinities in Performance: Towards a Queer Dramaturgy'. Irish Theatre International, 3 (1):75-94. [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2013) 'Following in Caryl Churchill¿s Footsteps: Rosemary Jenkinson¿s Spaces of Masculine Interrogation'. Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, 19 (2):395-414. [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2013) 'Performing POZ: Irish Theatre, HIV Stigma, and 'Post-AIDS' Identities'. Irish University Review, 43 (1):74-85. [Details]
Cormac O'Brien (2011) 'Rethinking Masculinity'. Theatre Research International, 36 (3):286-288. [Details]


Research Interests

Cormac O'Brien is a specialist in modern and contemporary Irish drama with a comparative focus on British and American theatre, investigating primarily the relations between governance and citizenship, and gender, sexuality, and national identities. His work in Irish drama further interrogates the correlations and tensions between dramatic structure and form and the politics of queer representation.

Cormac further specialises in the interdisciplinary field of Medical Humanities, comparatively exploring Irish and other Western cultural responses to HIV and AIDS, predominantly in drama, fiction, cinema, and television. He has recently expanded this research into dramatic and literary representations of epidemics and pandemics.

Cormac welcomes inquires for PhD supervision from potentail PhD candidates whose project aligns with any of his research interests; be that medical humanities, drama and theatre studies, or queer studies and/or biopolitics theory representation and culture.



Modules Coordinated

201600   ENG31410     English: Sexuality and the State
201600   ENG31400     English: Masculinities and Manhood
201600   ENG41610     English: Irish Theatre
201600   ENG20250     English: Twentieth-Century Drama

Developing as a Teacher

I am currently studying and researching for the Higher Diploma in University Teaching