• Room 01.005 - Music

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications related to G.F. Handel, Thomas Moore, London theatre history (c.1725-1825), Music in Ireland (c. 1750-1850), 19th-century book trade


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Personal profile

Research Statement

My current project is 'Fame and the female Dancer', an interpretative  study of the interactions between theatre performers and institutions between 1720 and 1860, with a particular focus on London and Paris. This project has received funding from the Leverhulme Foundation (2020), and also the Howard D. Rothschild Fellowship at the Houghton Library, Harvard (2020). The project's current output is a blog located at https://blogs.qub.ac.uk/dancebiographies/tag/dance-biography/; its first publication was the chapter "What Place for a Woman?" (ed. Selvik et al, 2020). This project will eventually result in a monograph.

'Fame and the Female Dancer' is a continuation of my earlier research on dance and music on the 18th-century London stage, which has resulted in a monograph (Dance in Handel's London Operas for University of Rochester Press, 2013). This surveys  London theatre practice in the first half of the eighteenth century,  situating Handel's response to theatrical dance in relation to his immediate theatrical environment. I challenge the notion that theatrical dance was necessarily peripheral to Italian opera before Gluck, while suggesting that the London theatre scene may have had more impact on opera reform on the continent than has previously been assumed. 

My chapter on Italian dancers on the 18th-century London stage is significant as it contributes to a wider study of cultural transmission (ed. Sasportes 2011). My articles and book chapters on the dancer Marie Sallé variously consider her as a stimulant for musical invention or emerging theatrical aesthetics, and also as a role model for younger female dancers. My exploration of the literary backdrop to Handel's opera Deidamia was published in an anthology with Cambridge University Press (ed. Timms and Wood, 2017).

Since 2000 I have been working with the Gibson-Massie Moore collection in Special Collections at Queen's University Belfast. Between 2015-2017 I was in receipt of Horizon 2020 funding for the project 'Europe's Reception of the Irish Melodies and National Airs: Thomas Moore in Europe' (ERIN).  With postdoctoral colleague Dr Tríona O'Hanlon I produced a major online resource that includes a union catalogue of music related to Moore's Irish Melodies, National Airs, and Lalla Rookh as found in eight European repositories with significant holdings of music related to Thomas Moore. Our website, http://www.erin.qub.ac.uk/ also includes four online collections and associated exhibitions, a substantial collection of audio files and podcasts, and a blog that ran for the duration of the project. O'Hanlon and I co-edited a volume of essays for Routledge: The Reputations of Thomas Moore: Poetry, Music and Politics (2020); I had previously co-edited Thomas Moore and Romantic Inspiration with Brian Caraher (Routledge, 2018). My work on Moore has given me an interest in studying the phenomenon of networking, about which I have published in the 2020 Moore anthology as well as contributing to the documentary project, The Romantic National Song Network (2017-2019): https://rnsn.glasgow.ac.uk/. I am also interested in Moore's working methods, and have published on that topic with Cambridge University Press  (ed. Watt et al, 2018). I have supervised student projects related to Moore at undergraduate, MA, and doctoral level. 

Over the years, I have been a New Grove contributor, and have published in Dance Research, Choreologica, Music and Letters, The Consort,the Göttinger Handel-Beiträge, and the Cambridge Handel Encyclopedia. 


Research Interests

Sarah McCleave engages with the transmission of dance and song between 1720 and 1860. Her published work calls on disciplines as varied as source studies, reception history, textual criticism, musical analysis, gender studies, and biography.  Her research interests include:

Thomas Moore (1779-1852),  his relationship with his music publishers, and his impact on the 19th-century publishing industry.

The biography of song/s.

The professionalisation of theatre dance, with particular reference to female performers and choreographers.

London theatre in the long eighteenth century, particularly the 'reciprocal relations' between genres.

G.F. Handel (1685-1759), particularly his extra-musical influences.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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