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Dr Cormac O'Brien


Cormac O'Brien

Lecturer/Assistant Professor
School of English, Drama and Film
716 8192
University College Dublin, School of English Drama and Film, Newman Building Belfield Dublin 4


Cormac O’Brien is Assistant Professor of Irish Drama at UCD and a Fulbright Scholar. Cormac joined the School of English, Drama and Film in the spring of 2016. He teaches and supervises student work that intersects the fields of drama and literary studies, gender and sexuality studies, and medical humanities. A foundational scholar of HIV/AIDS in Irish cultural representation and the first Irish academic to publish on HIV/AIDS in Irish theatre, Cormac is actively involved in advocacy and empowerment for communities affected by HIV/AIDS. He is a member of ACT UP Dublin and a founding member of the International Federation for Theatre Research’s working group, Queer Futures. As part of his larger research project, “Ireland in the Age of AIDS’, in spring 2019 Cormac was awarded and undertook a Fulbright Scholarship to investigate HIV/AIDS among Irish diasporas in the USA at the “AIDS and its Impact” collection at the University of South Carolina. He is also associate investigator on the major Irish Research Council funded project, “Contagion, Biopolitics, and Cultural Memory” at UCD. Cormac is Secretary of the Executive Committee for the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL). He also holds a seat on the Board of Directors of the Dublin Youth Theatre (DYT). Cormac has published widely on masculinities and queer sexualities in Irish theatre and culture, as well as several landmark essays on HIV/AIDS in Irish culture and politics. He is co-editor, with John Clum, of the essay collection "Sex, Gender and Sexualities" in Edward Albee’s Plays (Brill Rodophi: 2018); and co-editor, with Shonagh Hill, of a special issue of the Irish Society for Theatre Research’s journal, "Performance Ireland: Sex, Gender, and the City (Carysfort: 2018). His forthcoming monograph, "Masculinities and Manhood in Contemporary Irish Drama: Acting the Man" will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2020. Before coming to academia, Cormac worked as a drama workshop facilitator and theatre director, winning “Best Director” awards for his productions of Caryl Churchill’s "Three More Sleepless Nights" and Lillian Hellman’s "The Children’s Hour." 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 several Dublin based playwrights and performers.


  • Cert of CPD Univ Teaching & Learning
    University College Dublin
  • MA
    University College Dublin
  • PhD
    University College Dublin