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Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith

Committee in Charge
Professor of German Studies and of Theater and Performance Studies
Ph.D., Columbia University, English and Comparative Literature (Theatre Subcommittee) (2002)
M.A., Columbia University, English and Comparative Literature (Theatre Subcommittee) (1997)
M.A., University of Chicago, Religion (1995)
B.A., Brown University, History (1993)
Profile / Bio: 

Matthew Wilson Smith’s interests include modern theatre and relations between science, technology, and the arts. His book The Nervous Stage: 19th-century Neuroscience and the Birth of Modern Theatre (Oxford, 2017) explores historical intersections between theatre and neurology and traces the construction of a “neural subject” over the course of the nineteenth century. It was a finalist for the George Freedley Memorial Award of the Theater Library Association. His previous book, The Total Work of Art: From Bayreuth to Cyberspace (Routledge, 2007), presents a history and theory of attempts to unify the arts; the book places such diverse figures as Wagner, Moholy-Nagy, Brecht, Riefenstahl, Disney, Warhol, and contemporary cyber-artists within a coherent genealogy of multimedia performance. He is the editor of Georg Büchner: The Major Works, which appeared as a Norton Critical Edition in 2011, and the co-editor of Modernism and Opera (Johns Hopkins, 2016), which was shortlisted for an MSA Book Prize. His essays on theater, opera, film, and virtual reality have appeared widely, and his work as a playwright has appeared at the Eugene O’Neill Musical Theater Conference, Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater, and other stages. He previously held professorships at Cornell University and Boston University as well as visiting positions at Columbia University and Johannes Gutenberg-Universität (Mainz).