Rebecca Tierney-Hynes

Senior Lecturer


Rebecca Tierney-Hynes studied at the University of Toronto (PhD), and taught at Suffolk University and the University of Waterloo before coming to Edinburgh in 2017. Her current interests include eighteenth-century comedy and the history of Scottish theatre. Her book, Laughing Matters, is under contract with OUP and a comprehensive article on eighteenth-century Scottish theatre history is forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Scottish Theatre. Her first book, Novel Minds (Palgrave 2012), was on eighteenth-century fiction and empiricist models of literary absorption. She has also published on eighteenth-century drama, novel form, humours theory, secret history, and political celebrity. 

Undergraduate teaching

The Queer Eighteenth Century

The Novel and the Modern Self

Staging Enlightenment: Theatre 1660-1780

Early Modern Tragedy

Early Modern Comedy

The Novel in the Romantic Period

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Rebecca is happy to entertain proposals in any area of eighteenth-century literature and culture. She particularly welcomes projects on fiction or drama before 1780, and on eighteenth-century intellectual history. 

Past PhD students supervised

Kyle Malashewski - University of Waterloo PhD 2017

Research summary

Rebecca specialises in eighteenth-century fiction, drama and literary criticism. She is primarily interested in eighteenth-century theories of spectatorship and histories of emotion. 

Current research interests

At the moment, she is working on a second monograph, tentatively titled 'Laughing Matters: Comedy, Sympathy and the Ethical Spectator, 1660-1750' (under contract with OUP's 'Textual Perspectives' series). In this book, she explores the way eighteenth-century comic playwrights and literary critics seize upon and rework empiricist notions of self-making in ways that ultimately allow us to see how our attachments to comic objects produce the mimetic emotions that define sympathy. She is also working on a new project with Brianna Robertson-Kirkland (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) on Scottish drama and music in the eighteenth century called 'Cultures of Performance in Eighteenth-Century Scotland'.

Past research interests

Rebecca has published on ideas about fiction and theories of reading in empiricist philosophy; comedy and early political economy; tragedy and the ethics of spectatorship; and secret history, celebrity, and political representation.

Knowledge exchange

Rebecca's current project, 'Laughing Matters', is funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. Past funded projects have included a fellowhip with the Centre for the History of Emotions in Australia and an Insight Grant, awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for research on comedy and emotion. 

Research activities

View all 20 activities on Research Explorer

Current project grants

Laughing Matters: Comedy, Sympathy and the Ethical Spectator, 1660-1750 - Leverhulme Research Fellowship Sept 2019-Dec 2020

Past project grants

Funny Feelings: Eighteenth-Century Comedy and the History of Emotion - SSHRC Insight Grant 2017-2020 - Declined
The Afterlife of Genre - Early Career International Research Fellowship - ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotion Jan-Mar 2016

View all 19 publications on Research Explorer