Department of English

University of Toronto

Sergi, Matthew

Matthew SergiMatthew Sergi
Associate Professor, University of Toronto St. George
UTSG Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street, Room 812
Website (including all course syllabi):
Office Hours and/or Leave Status: On leave January 1, 2022 - December 31, 2022 
Office Hours are only held on days when classes are in session, but at varying times. Please see for current hours.

Teaching and Research Interests: Medieval Drama, Early English Drama, Medieval Literature, History of the English Language.

Ph.D., English and Medieval Studies (University of California-Berkeley), B.F.A., Drama and English (New York University).

Matthew Sergi, an Associate Professor of English, centres his research (as well as his graduate teaching and mentorship) on medieval English drama and performance. His undergraduate courses at the U of T, which won the campus-wide Early Career Teaching Award in 2019, cover English drama before 1485 (medieval drama); English drama between 1485 and 1603 (medieval and early modern drama); English literature before 1660; and the history of the English language.

In 2011, Matt got his Ph.D. in English and Medieval Studies from the University of California-Berkeley, where his dissertation work and publications on the biblical plays of the Chester cycle (c.1421-1607) earned him numerous honours, including one of the Medieval Academy of America's Schallek Awards in 2008 and the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society (MRDS)'s 2012 Barbara Palmer Award for Best New Essay in Early Drama Archival Research. Before coming to the U of T, Matt spent two years as an Assistant Professor of English at Wellesley College. Matt did his undergraduate work at NYU, where he studied English while also earning his BFA in Drama at the Tisch School of the Arts, with an emphasis in Applied Theatre, and where he studied the Six Viewpoints under their creator, the late Mary Overlie. A 2012 Artist in Residence (Performance) at the Headlands Center for the Arts, with an array of credits as an actor or collaborator in indie and experimental plays (mainly during his time in San Francisco and Boston), Matt’s training and experience in live performance remain fundamental to his research and teaching. Matt has presented his ongoing research in early drama internationally, including invited lectures at Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology/Huntington Library, and the Folger Institute (where he also led a practical Viewpoints workshop).

Matt’s first monograph, Practical Cues and Social Spectacle in the Chester Plays, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2020 and earned an Honorable Mention for the MRDS’s David Bevington Award (Best New Book in Early Drama Studies) for that year. The book investigates how the unscripted festive practices of Chester's citizens shaped, and were shaped by, the dramatic scripts they left behind: it finds a vibrant set of social practices encoded in Chester’s play texts and archives.

His research into the economics of medieval performance, dependent as much on close readings of play texts as on thorough exploration of archives (most often those records collected by the Records of Early English Drama project), has taken form in publications (for which he has received the MRDS’s 2016 Martin Stevens Award for Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies) and in live performances (funded in part by a 2015 Connaught New Researcher Award) that he has directed. He sits on the board of PLS, a Toronto production company devoted to live performances of early drama, through which he has produced most of those performances. Building from there, his newest research and academic writing will focus on the fifteenth-century morality play Mankind, situating it in its potentially raucous performance milieux, alongside a new present-day English translation for use in performance.



Practical Cues and Social Spectacle in the Chester Plays (University of Chicago Press, 2020). (Honorable Mention: MRDS Bevington Award).

Articles and Chapters
“Un-Dating the Chester Plays: A Critical Reassessment of Mills, Clopper, and MS Peniarth 399.” In Early British Drama in Manuscript, eds. Tamara Atkin and Laura Estill (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Press, 2019): 71-102.

“Our Subject Is Each Other: Teaching HEL to ESL, EFL, and Non-Standard English Speakers.” In The History of the English Language: Pedagogical Practices for College and University Classrooms, eds. Mary Hayes and Allison Burkette (Oxford University Press, 2017).

“Beyond Theatrical Marketing: Play Banns in the Records of Kent, Sussex, and Lincolnshire.” Medieval English Theatre 36 (2014): 3-23. (Winner, MRDS Stevens Award).

“Dice at Chester’s Passion.” In The Chester Cycle in Context, 1555-1575: Religion, Drama, and the Impact of Change, eds. Ostovich, Klausner, and Dell (Ashgate, 2012): 65-78.

"Staging Food and Drink at Chester." In Medieval English Theatre 31 (2011 for 2009), 89-136. "Dice at Chester's Passion." In The Chester Cycle in Context, 1555-1575: Religion, Drama, and the Impact of Change, eds. Ostovich, Klausner, and Dell (Ashgate, 2012): 65-78.

"Festive Piety: Staging Food and Drink at Chester." In Medieval English Theatre 31 (2011 for 2009), 89-136. (Winner, MRDS Palmer Award).

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