Matthew J. Smith, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of English

Phone: (626) 815-6000, Ext. 2055
Office Location: Faculty Quad, Room 7
Photo of Matthew J. Smith, PhD


Matthew J. Smith, PhD, teaches Medieval and Renaissance literature and drama. His research interests include early modern performance studies, tragic theory, religion, affect studies, historical phenomenology, and philosophy and literature. He is the author of Performance and Religion in Early Modern England: Stage, Cathedral, Wagon, Street (Notre Dame 2018). This book revises our understanding of the relation between theater and religion by redefining early modern theatricality through multiple performance genres, including commercial plays, medieval drama, pageants, political ceremonies, sermons, ballads, jigs, and festivals. Smith is also co-editor with Julia Lupton of Face to Face in Shakespearean Drama: Ethics, Performance, Philosophy (Edinburgh 2019). This collection convenes the important, though rare, conversation between performance studies and ethics in Shakespeare's plays. Smith also serves as Associate Editor of Christianity & Literature, and has edited/co-edited two special issues—"Sincerity" and "The Sacramental Text Reconsidered." His awards include the Francis Bacon Fellowship in Renaissance Studies at the Huntington Library, the Shakespeare Association of America's J. Leeds Barroll Prize, and the Beverly Hardcastle Stanford Fellowship.

He is currently writing a book entitled, "Shakespearean Recognitions: Philosophies of the Post Tragic," where he argues that there is a correlation between classical anagnorisis, or dramatic recognition, and the modern ethical discourse on mutual recognition in the writings of Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Husserl, Levinas, Ricoeur, and others. This book looks to the archives of what Smith calls the "medieval theater of recognition"—devotional acts surrounding the Elevation of the Host and medieval resurrection drama—as a bridge between classical and modern forms of recognition. Smith is also co-editing (with Caleb Spencer) a volume on "Literature and Religious Experience" that uses the resources of the religious turn in literary studies to reassess the category of "religion" through sociological, anthropological, and phenomenological accounts of experience. Here, literary criticism is viewed as stretching yet also sustaining the tension between praxis and belief that characterizes religious encounters in literature.


  • PhD, University of Southern California, 2012
  • MA, University of Connecticut, 2008
  • BA, Biola University, 2005

Academic Areas

  • Honors College
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
    • Department of English


  • Drama
  • Historical Phenomenology
  • History of Early Modern Performance
  • Religion
  • Religion and Literature
  • Renaissance literature

Courses Taught

  • ENGL 110 – Freshman Writing Seminar
  • ENGL 111 – Introduction to Literature
  • ENGL 222 – English Literature Survey to 1789
  • ENGL 377 – Shakespeare

Office Hours

by appointment only

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