Dr Richard O'Brien

English

Iontas Building
Ground Floor
Office 0.35a

Biography

I grew up in Lincolnshire and took my BA at Brasenose College, Oxford, in English and French. I was part of the first cohort for the Shakespeare Institute’s MA in Shakespeare and Creativity, where I went on to complete my PhD: a wide-ranging study of the development of verse drama from Shakespeare to the present day, incorporating elements of creative practice.

My academic interests span from the 16th century to contemporary poetry, and I am always looking for ways to bridge the gap between them, as well as the more significant gap between critical and creative practice. I am a specialist in early modern theatre, and the particular focus of my current research is on contemporary fictional representations of the early modern period. My work in this field has been published in the Ben Jonson Journal, in edited collections by Cambridge University Press and Berghahn, and presented at international conferences including the International Federation for Theatre Research (Stockholm, 2016) and the Shakespeare Association of America (2017, 2018). In March 2017, I was Global Premodern Studies Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota.

Alongside my academic work, I also write creatively. My poetry has been published in three pamphlets with UK-based independent presses, and has featured in magazines including Poetry London, The White Review and The Literateur, as well as a number of anthologies. I have performed at the BBC Proms for a Radio 3 broadcast, translated work from French and Latvian, and edited anthologies for the Emma Press. In 2017 I was one of six winners of the Society of Authors' Eric Gregory Award, and in 2018 I was appointed Birmingham Poet Laureate. I also write for children and do school visits for Pop Up Projects. My first play for children, an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant, premiered at the Arcola Theatre, London, in December 2016.

Research Interests

The development of verse drama in Britain from the 16th century to the present day, particularly as understood in dialogue with Shakespeare; fictional depictions of Shakespeare and especially Shakespeare’s contemporaries, with a focus on Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe; incidental uses of Shakespeare in popular music and pop culture; the relationship between politics and poetic form; contemporary poetry; depictions of class in post-war British literature and music, including a project on the songwriter Jake Thackray (http://gatherabud.wordpress.com)

Books

  Year Publication
2015 A Bloody Mess.
Richard O'Brien (2015) A Bloody Mess. Scarborough: Valley Press. [Details]
2014 The Emmores.
Richard O'Brien (2014) The Emmores. Birmingham: The Emma Press. [Details]
2014 The Emmores.
Richard O'Brien (2014) The Emmores. Birmingham: The Emma Press. [Details]

Book Chapters

  Year Publication
2020 ''Welcome to the Renaissance / Where everything is new”: Finding Ourselves in Dramatisations of Theatrical History.''
Richard O'Brien (2020) ''Welcome to the Renaissance / Where everything is new”: Finding Ourselves in Dramatisations of Theatrical History.'' In: The Past is Back on Stage - Medieval and Early Modern England on the Contemporary Stage. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press. [Details]
2020 '• ‘Married at First Sight and the Elizabethan Sonnet Sequence: A TV Literature Experiment.’'
Richard O'Brien, Jack Nicholls (2020) '• ‘Married at First Sight and the Elizabethan Sonnet Sequence: A TV Literature Experiment.’' In: Reto Winckler, Victor Huertas Martin (eds). Television Series as Literature: From the Ordinary to the Unthinkable. London: Palgrave. [Details]
2020 '‘Don’t you care about Shakespeare?’: Dreams of Adolescence in Be More Chill.''
Richard O'Brien (2020) '‘Don’t you care about Shakespeare?’: Dreams of Adolescence in Be More Chill.'' In: Nicolas Tredell (eds). Critical Insights: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. New York: Grey House/Salem Press. [Details]
2020 'The Bard-baiting Model in Upstart Crow and Something Rotten'
Richard O'Brien (2020) 'The Bard-baiting Model in Upstart Crow and Something Rotten' In: Paul Franssen, Paul Edmondson (eds). Shakespeare and his Biographical Afterlives. New York: Berghahn Books. [Details]
2018 'Shakespeare unbard: negotiating civic Shakespeare'
Richard O'Brien and Hester Bradley (2018) 'Shakespeare unbard: negotiating civic Shakespeare' In: New Places. The Arden Shakespeare. [Details]

Edited Books

  Year Publication
2019 Dragons of the Prime
Richard O'Brien (Ed.). (2019) Dragons of the Prime Birmingham: The Emma Press. [Details]
2018 Second Place Rosette
Richard O'Brien, Emma Dai'an Wright (Ed.). (2018) Second Place Rosette Birmingham: The Emma Press. [Details]
2017 This Is Not Your Final Form
Richard O'Brien, Emma Dai'an Wright (Ed.). (2017) This Is Not Your Final Form Birmingham: The Emma Press. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

  Year Publication
2020 ''I know my clay”: Some Musical Afterlives of Hamlet’s Gravedigger'
Richard O'Brien (2020) ''I know my clay”: Some Musical Afterlives of Hamlet’s Gravedigger'. BORROWERS AND LENDERS: THE JOURNAL OF SHAKESPEARE AND APPROPRIATION, [Details]
2018 'Community and Conflict: A Practitioner’s Perspective on Verse Drama'
Richard O'Brien (2018) 'Community and Conflict: A Practitioner’s Perspective on Verse Drama'. Connotations, 27 :120-54 [DOI] [Details]
2018 '“I will never play the Dane”: Shakespeare and the performer's failure'
Richard O'Brien (2018) '“I will never play the Dane”: Shakespeare and the performer's failure'. Literature Compass, 15 (8) [DOI] [Details]
2016 '“Put not / Beyond the sphere of your activity”: the fictional afterlives of Ben Jonson'
Richard O'Brien (2016) '“Put not / Beyond the sphere of your activity”: the fictional afterlives of Ben Jonson'. Ben Jonson Journal, 23 (2):169-191 [DOI] [Details]

Translation

  Year Publication
2018 Narcoses.
Richard O'Brien, Madara Gruntmane, Marta Ziemelis (2018) Narcoses. Translation [Details]
2018 The Book of Clouds.
Richard O'Brien, Juris Kronbergs, Mara Rozitis (2018) The Book of Clouds. Translation [Details]
2018 Everyone's The Smartest.
Richard O'Brien, Contra, Katlin Kaldmaa, Charlotte Geater (2018) Everyone's The Smartest. Translation [Details]
2017 The Noisy Classroom.
Richard O'Brien, Ieva Flamingo, Zanete Pasqualini, Sara Smith (2017) The Noisy Classroom. Translation [Details]

Honours and Awards

  Year Title Awarding Body
2017 Eric Gregory Award The Society of Authors

Languages

  Language Reading Writing Speaking
French Fluent Fluent Fluent

Outreach Activities

  Description

I am a Commisioning Editor for the Emma Press, a regional press of growing national importance (featured in The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC Radio 6 Music), developing poetry anthologies for adults and publications for children. I have also chaired three conferences — 'Poetry and TV', co-chaired with Dr Jenna Clake (University of Teesside) in July 2018, 'Out of Practice', an event showcasing practice led research, in collaboration with Tom White (June 2016), and the 2015 British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, the largest postgraduate event of its kind in early modern drama. In 2016 I served as an academic consultant with Professor Ewan Fernie on ‘Our Shakespeare’ — the Library of Birmingham’s 2016 Shakespeare Exhibition, in collaboration with partners from the Library of Birmingham and the British Library. I have also produced schools resources for the Poetry Society, and participated in the Pop Up Festival arts programme in primary schools in Hackney and Telford to deliver writing workshops based around the CLiPPA-shortlisted children's poetry anthology Falling Out of the Sky (Emma Press, 2015) and my co-translation of the children's poetry collection The Noisy Classroom by Ieva Flamingo.

Teaching Interests

My undergraduate teaching includes the early modern literature modules Lost Worlds, Literatures of Place, and Reading/Theory. I am available to supervise disseration-level work on early modern literature and contemporary poetry, as well as creative writing projects across genre. Previously I taught in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, and supervised creative dissertations largely in playwriting at undergraduate and Masters level. I also taught on the Shakespeare Institute's unique MA course in Shakespeare and Creativity, leading the modules Shakespearience and Shakespeare and Society.