Thomas Sheridan's Career and Influence
An Actor in Earnest
This new study of the controversial Irish adventurer Thomas Sheridan (1719-1788) explores Sheridan's phonocentrist obsession. Sheridan is known as Richard Brinsley Sheridan's father, Frances Sheridan's husband, and Jonathan Swift's godson. In his own right and his own day, he was employed variously as an actor-manager, elocutionist, lecturer, and educational theorist. He believed that the key to Irish national renewal and European cultural revival was the cultivation of the spoken word. Sheridan's stewardship of the Smock Alley Theater in Dublin was marked by considerable innovation along with bitter controversies and famous riots. His lectures on oratory provoked admiration and ridicule in roughly equal measure, yet he would have a profound influence on future educational practice. Conrad Brunström argues that Sheridan's many failures are as interesting as his successes and that he stands as a fascinating example of the power of a single idea, variously interpreted and implemented. He stands as a popular rhetorician who unwittingly facilitated a culture of almost cinematic spectacle as well as a critical contributor to an Irish nationalist tradition that regards "big speeches" as the inspirational heritage of an active citizenry.
About the author:
Conrad Brunström was born in London, England in 1968, and educated at the University of Cambridge, where he received his PhD in 1994. Since 1995 he has been Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. He has published on authors such as Samuel Johnson, james Beattie, Thomas Sheridan the Younger, and Charles Churchill in boks and journals including The British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Eighteenth-century Ireland, Romanticism, and New Hibernia Review. His research interests include religious poetry, literature and nationalism, the Scottish Enlightenment, and ideas of eighteenth-century masculinity.