Dr Eleanor Lybeck

Senior Lecturer in Literature Institute of Irish Studies


Literature, Theatre and Performance History Since 1800

My first monograph, All on Show: The Circus in Irish Literature and Culture, was published by Cork University Press in 2019. In the book, I trace how writers and artists since the late eighteenth century have used the image of the circus to explore complex relationships between individuals and the Irish nation. I am currently developing an off-shoot of this research while exploring the possibility of creating an oral history of the Irish circus with colleagues at University College Dublin.

My current research project focuses on English comic opera and the history of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company on tour. Entitled D’Oyly Carte’s Empires, this project looks in detail at how the Savoy Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan became colonial exports to Ireland, India, South Africa, and Australia in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. More broadly, it asks what the steady decline of regional and touring theatre might tell us about culture and society in our present moment. Meanwhile, I am developing articles on William Hazlitt and Virginia Woolf's writings about theatre and performance, the circus novels of John Banville and Angela Carter, and literary representations of women in higher education since the late nineteenth century.

Practice-based Research

I am the founder and co-director of the theatre company, Sidelong Glance. I run this with Dr Rosie Lavan, Assistant Professor in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin. Our recent production, Wild Laughter, tells the story of an Edwardian stage clown and patter baritone, Albert James, while exploring the long history and traditions of clowning and comedy. Wild Laughter has been performed in Dublin, Oxford and Cambridge. Sidelong Glance is currently developing an adaptation for the stage of Virginia Woolf’s final novel Between the Acts to mark the 80th anniversary of its publication.