Dr Irene Morra
I am a member of the School's English Literature group, and a member of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory.
I am the author of three books and co-editor of a volume of collected essays:
- Twentieth-Century British Authors and the Rise of Opera in Britain (Ashgate, 2007)
- Britishness, Popular Music and National Identity: The Making of Modern Britain (Routledge, 2014)
- The New Elizabethan Age: Culture, Society, and National Identity after World War II, ed. with Rob Gossedge (I.B. Tauris, 2016)
- Verse Drama in England, 1900-2015: Art, Modernity, and the National Stage (Bloomsbury Methuen, 2016)
Please click on my 'Publications' profile for a full list of peer-reviewed articles and essays.
My research and teaching/supervisory interests have focused on the following areas:
- literature and music
- early modern drama
- cultural afterlives, especially Renaissance and medieval
- Victorian intertextuality and cultural exchange
- modernism and intermedial aesthetics
- popular music and music culture
- British cultural nationalism
- twentieth-century American literature, film, drama
- twentieth and twenty-first century British literature and culture
- opera studies
- modern drama and its relationship to the 'other' arts (including the novel, opera, popular music culture, television, film)
Education and Qualifications
- B.A. (English Literature, Musicology, and French Literature, University of Toronto)
- M.A. (Queen's University)
- PhD (University of Toronto)
- 2014-2015: Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London
- 2015: Department of English, University of Toronto
British Shakespeare Association (BSA)
British Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS)
Modern Language Association of America (MLA)
Modernist Studies Association (MSA)
North American Conference for British Studies (NACBS)
Shakespeare Association of America (SAA)
Committees and reviewing
Elected executive member of the MLA's Media Studies (Opera and Musical Performance) Committee.
I have designed and taught the following modules at Cardiff University:
- Critical Reading and Critical Writing (team-taught module)
- Drama: Page and Stage
- Shakespeare’s Comedies
- John Donne
- The Victorian Novel (with Dr. Becky Munford)
- Women’s Writing Between the Wars
- Social Politics and National Style: American Fiction and Form, 1920-1940
- The American South in Literature and Film
- Literature and the London Blitz
- Modern Drama I
- Modern Drama II
- Modern Drama: Page, Stage, Screen
- The Film Musical
- Music and Nation
- Literature into Film
- Modern and Contemporary American Drama
I have supervised postgraduate dissertations on Renaissance drama, the Victorian novel, twentieth-century American fiction, 1920s experimental theatre, British interwar fiction, opera, and modern British theatre.
I welcome enquiries about supervision in any of the areas above or in the research areas listed on the 'Overview' and 'Research' pages.
My research is often interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary, and has ranged across literary periods and genres.
Individual articles have explored the figure of the isolated musician in the Victorian novel; Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, and nineteenth-century opera; and the intertextual presence of Shakespeare, Milton, and Tennyson in the novels of Dickens and Twain. Essays on modern and contemporary culture have analysed the Edwardian enthusiasms of David Mamet on film; the Anglophilia of Lerner and Lowe; the anti-theatricality of the contemporary English stage; and the relationship between artistic expression, social empowerment, and cultural nationalism in the reception of the London Olympics Opening ceremony. Others have explored the New Elizabethan status of Hilary Mantel, the signifying theatricality of Greek drama in the work of Tennessee Williams, and the dynamic, pervasive resonance of Shakespearean theatre in modern and contemporary politics, pageantry, and drama.
My books have focussed primarily on literature, the arts, and cultural nationalism in modern and contemporary Britain, from a variety of perspectives and methodologies. Twentieth-Century British Authors and the Rise of Opera in Britain analyses the ‘rise’ of opera in mid twentieth-century Britain in relation to the uncharacteristically influential role of the literary librettist: through extended explorations of the dynamics between W. H. Auden and Benjamin Britten, E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier, T. S. Eliot and Michael Tippett, it identifies and theorizes a distinct – and distinctly overlooked – intermedial literary form.
Britishness, Popular Music, and National Identity: The Making of Modern Britain identifies the social and cultural importance of popular music to contemporary English constructions of Britishness. Arguing that popular music has now replaced English literature as the predominant cultural signifier of a contemporary British identity, it interrogates the various values that that tradition is expected to embody. The book contextualizes its readings of British popular music from the 1950s to the present day within a larger examination of modern debates about English folk identity, race, class, and imperial history.
Verse Drama in England, 1900-2015: Art, Modernity, and the National Stage traces the development of a diffuse but consistently alternative, self-consciously resistant tradition. It explores the negotiation of various poet-dramatists with constructions of national and communal audience, aesthetic challenge, and dramatic heritage. It also investigates the relationship of much verse drama with opera, ballet, and music-hall. Through a close analysis of the work and writings of dramatists including Stephen Phillips, W. B. Yeats, John Masefield, Anne Ridler, Gordon Bottomley, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, Christopher Fry, John Arden, Steven Berkoff, Caryl Churchill, Tony Harrison, and Mike Bartlett, it encourages a re-visitation of the prevailing historiography of modern British drama – and a renewed attention to the cultural and national assumptions that have shaped contemporary perceptions.
Nationalism and national aesthetics, particularly in British literature, music, theatre, political discourse, and historiography
Intermediality, adaptation, and intertextuality: Victorian intertexualities; modernist aesthetics (esp. Auden, Eliot, Woolf); music and literature; film and theatre; film and literature; popular music studies; the novel and the 'other arts'
Trans-Atlanticism: Dickens and Twain, Southern Gothic and the Victorian novel, Britain and Canada (esp post-WWII)
Drama: modern and contemporary; medieval and Renaissance, particularly its afterlife in literature, theatre, film, and contemporary culture