School of Humanities and Sciences
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Professor of German Studies and of Theater and Performance Studies
BioMatthew Wilson Smith's interests include modern theatre; modernism and media; and relations between technology, science, and the arts. His book The Nervous Stage: 19th-century Neuroscience and the Birth of Modern Theatre (Oxford, 2017) explores historical intersections between the performing arts and the neurological sciences and traces the construction of a “neural subject” over the course of the nineteenth century. His previous book, The Total Work of Art: From Bayreuth to Cyberspace (Routledge, 2007), presents a history and theory of modern artistic synthesis, placing such diverse figures as Wagner, Moholy-Nagy, Brecht, Riefenstahl, Disney, Warhol, and contemporary cyber-artists within a genealogy of totalizing 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, published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2016. He previously held professorships at Cornell University and Boston University as well as visiting positions at Columbia University and Johannes Gutenberg-Universität (Mainz).
Senior Lecturer in Theater and Performance Studies, Emerita
BioConnie Strayer’s costume designs have been seen on local stages of Opera San Jose, West Bay Opera, TheatreWorks (where she was nominated for a Bay Area Theatre Critic’s Circle Award) as well as the Stanford Summer Theater, where she has recently designed Amy Freed’s Restoration Comedy and Harold Pinter’s The Lover, among others. Related areas include working as a make-up artist for the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, fashion, and film. For the past twenty years, she has been studying the art of dyeing, and has utilized her skills for the pre-Broadway production of Martin Guerre for The Guthrie Theatre; Firebird, Carnival of Animals, and Fifth Element for the San Francisco Ballet; Medea for Smuin Ballet; and other works for Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, San Diego Opera, Ballet San Jose, and The Singapore Dance Company. She also designs and produces hand-painted yardage for the fashion arena. She is a member of the Theatrical Designer’s Union, USAA Local #829.