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Emer O'Toole, PhD

Performance Studies, School of Irish Studies

Emer O'Toole, PhD


I study theatre, performance, and film. My critical frameworks are Bourdieusian, feminist, and postcolonial. My research asks questions about power, identity, and culture, and is always underwritten by a commitment to social equality.

My most recent research project, funded by the FRQSC and the SSHRC, explores the relationship between activism and aesthetics in contemporary Irish theatre. 

I believe it's important to bring academic ideas to non-specialist readerships. My monograph, Contemporary Irish Theatre and Social Change (Routledge: 2023), digs into scholarly debates about aesthetic autonomy, always taking care to start from first principles. My non-fiction trade book, Girls Will Be Girls (2015), renders Judith Butler's theory of gender performativity accessible and, I hope, interesting to a wide demographic.

I'm also a creative writer and theatremaker, and think that art is sometimes the best way to figure stuff out.

If you are a potential graduate student and would like to work with me, I'm particularly interested in supervising theatre and performance research as well as work on gender, feminism, and sexuality. 


My Ph.D (Royal Holloway, University of London, 2012) examined the ethics of intercultural theatre practice, with a particular focus on adaptations of J. M. Synge’s canonical Irish play The Playboy of the Western World. The thesis can be downloaded in full here

Following my PhD, I spent a year working as a postdoctoral research assistant on the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project, and retain a keen interest in first nations, aboriginal and indigenous art and politics.

I also hold an MPhil in Irish Theatre and Performance from Trinity College Dublin, as well as a BA in Philosophy and English Literature from the National University of Ireland, Galway. My teaching practice is accredited by the UK's Higher Education Academy.

Teaching activities


At 300 level I teach:
Irish Plays
Irish Film
Irish Performance Studies
Contemporary Irish Theatre
Intercultural Ireland
At 200 level I teach:
Introduction to Irish Studies

At 800 level I teach:
Performance Studies

I also regularly supervise independent undergraduate field studies in Ireland

Please consult Concordia's class schedule tool (here) to see what I'm teaching this year



O’Toole, Emer, Andrea Kristic Pelegri and Stuart Young, eds. Ethical Exchanges: Translation, Adaptation and Dramaturgy. Boston; Leiden: Brill, 2017

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

O'Toole, Emer. 'No Propaganda But.’ Art, Aesthetics, Activism, and THEATREclub’s Ireland Trilogy.' Contemporary Theatre Review 29.4, 2019.
Panti Bliss Still Can’t Get Hitched: Meditations on Performativity, Drag, & Gay Marriage' Sexualities 22.3 2018
---. '
Guerilla Glamour: The Queer Tactics of Dr. Panti Bliss.' Eire-Ireland 52.4, 2017. 
---. '
Waking the Feminists: Re-imagining the Space of the National Theatre in the Era of the Celtic Phoenix.' Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory 28.2 (2017): 134-152.
---. ‘
Cultural Capital in Intercultural Theatre: A Study of Pan Pan Theatre Company’s The Playboy of the Western World.’ Target 25.1 ,2013. P. 407- 426.
---. ‘Towards Best Intercultural Practice: A Study of Tim Supple’s Pan-Indian A 
Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, 4.3, 2011. P. 289-302


O'Toole, Emer, "The Mother of Us All," Redress: Ireland's Institutions and Transnational Justice. Ed. Katherine O'Donnell, Maeve O'Rourke, James M. Smith. Dublin: UCD Press, 2022, 57-67.
---. "The Intercultural Theatre Wars and The Playboy of the Western World: A New Version." The Playboy of the Western World: A New Version. Ed. Jason King and Matthew Spangler. Syracuse, 2023.
O'Toole Emer and Daniel O'Gorman. '“My Country Has Been Imagined Enough:” The Great Game, Neo-imperialism, and Gender.' 
Theatres of War: Contemporary Perspectives. Ed. Lauri Ramey. Metheun/Palgrave, 2022 
O'Toole, Emer. “Intercultural Adaptation: The Ethics of Peter Brook's 11 & 12.” Translation,  Adaptation and Dramaturgy: Ethics in Dialogue, Ethics in Action. Ed. Emer O’Toole, Andrea Kristic Pelegri and Stuart Young. Boston; Leiden: Brill, 2017

Book Reviews and Articles in Scholarly Journals Without a Review Committee

O’Toole, Emer. ‘Review of Staging Intercultural Ireland ed. Matthew Spangler and Charlotte McIvor.’ Cultural Diversity and the Stage. 2000 words. (Forthcoming)
---. ‘Performance Review of Terminus, The Centaur Theatre, Montréal, Feb 2015.’ Canadian Journal of Irish Studies 39.1, 2015
---. ‘Universality and Difference: The Politics of Peter Brook’s 11 and 12’ Cultural Diversity and the Stage. 8.1, 2010. P. 21-27
---. ‘Review of Representation and Contestation: Cultural Politics in a Political Century. Ching-Yu Linn and John McSweeney.’ Performing Ethos 1.2, 2011.
---. ‘Review of Political Performances ed.Deirdre Heddon et al.’ Contemporary Theatre Review. 20.4, 2010.


The Guardian
The Irish Times

Participation activities


I am a Fellow of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute.

I am a member of the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR).

Theatre Performances

The Riot Ballet

With Noah Drew, Catalina Medina, Martin Andrew, Shawn Ketchum Johnson, and production/performance team. 

The Riot Ballet is an immersive theatre game/event exploring themes of activism, protest, extremism and riot.

Aug 21-25, 2019, Montréal, and Seattle, Sept 19-22, 2019.

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