Dr Emer McHugh

BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Contact Details

Lecturer Below The Bar in Drama and Theatre Studies
Floor 1, Tower 1
Arts Concourse Building
E: emchugh@nuigalway.ie


[Pronouns: she/her]

I am a Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies. I am a graduate of the Drama programmes at NUI Galway (BA (Hons) and PhD), and also hold an MA in Shakespeare and Theatre (with Distinction) from the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham. I've taught at NUIG, UCD, and Trinity College Dublin, and have held research assistantships at both UCD and NUIG. 

I'm an early modernist by trade: I am a theatre historian and a scholar of contemporary performance. My work focuses on Shakespeare and early modern performance studies: focusing on how such performance is informed by and disrupts cultural politics, sexual, and gender norms. Most of my research focuses on this in an Irish (and therefore postcolonial) context, but I am broadly interested in the politics of the Shakespeare theatre and adaptation industry as a whole. I am also interested in theatre and celebrity; the histories of actors, acting, and acting practices; theatre histories and historiographies; gender and sexuality studies; and contemporary Irish and British performance. 

In the classroom, I am passionate about introducing students to the creative potential of Shakespeare and early modern plays. I specialise particularly in teaching early modern performance studies and Shakespeare in adaptation, as well as giving students the tools to work with these plays in practice. My teaching encourages students to take ownership of these canonical plays, and to reinterpret and reappraise them anew through critical and creative work. I also enjoy teaching Irish theatre, theatre histories, and contemporary theatre. 

My monograph, Irish Shakespeares: Gender, Sexuality, and Performance in the Twenty-First Century, is forthcoming from Routledge. I am also developing work on reappraising so-called Great Shakespearean actors through the lens of Irishness (particularly Kenneth Branagh, Peter O'Toole, and Fiona Shaw), for which I was recently awarded a Marie Sklowdowska-Curie Research Fellowship which I will take up at Queen's University Belfast in 2023. I am also at work on a few other projects: an edited collection on the idea of the Shakespearean actor (with Sally Barnden and Miranda Fay Thomas); a history of Shakespeare at Dublin's Gate Theatre; and a history of Twelfth Night in performance. Other projects I'm developing include ones on bisexual performance studies and the insertion of gendered violence in modern versions of Hamlet.

Outside of teaching and research, with Aoife Martin and Lizzie Huxley-Jones I run the Lockdown Book Club, facilitating conversations with emerging and established authors. To date we have featured Sinéad Gleeson, Elaine Feeney, Irenosen Okojie, Patrick Freyne, Oein deBhairdúin, Adiba Jaigirdar, Leone Ross, Louise O'Neill, Julia Armfield, James Conor Patterson, Rosaleen McDonagh, and many more. You can also find my public writing on Shakespeare performance, popular music, and climate change on RTÉ Brainstorm, Women Are Boring, HowlRound Theatre Commons, and many more. I have also recently been appointed to the Irish Renaissance Seminar steering committee for a three-year term, and previously have served on the steering committees for the UK Society for Theatre Research's New Researchers' Network and EDEN (Early Doctoral Exchange Network) at NUI Galway.