Epic Reading of Beowulf


Free and Open to the Public

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Under the leadership of Harvard English Department Fellow Steven Rozenski and Wellesley College English professor Matthew Sergi, scholars, students, and fans of medieval literature will be able to participate in a live reading of the epic poem Beowulf — over drinks, as it was meant to be done. Over a thousand years before Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage, Anglo-Saxon poets (called scops) composed and performed this four-hour epic poem orally, performing it for their lords and friends in mead halls much like Beowulf’s Heorot, in the earliest form of English:

“Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum, þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.”  

The reading is free and open to the general public. Participants are welcome to attend for as long as they wish, or stay for the whole epic, or, if familiar with Old English, sign up to read a passage. Volunteer guest readers already include an array of accomplished medieval scholars, including Beowulf specialist Dan Donoghue (Harvard). Translations will be made available for newer readers; on breaks, our scholars will field questions about the poem and about the medieval history and culture behind Beowulf.  To sign up for your favorite passage in advance, email Matthew Sergi at, or sign up at OBERON at the event.

Doors open at 11:45am for the 12pm start, event runs from 12pm to 5pm.  Audience should feel free to come and go as needed throughout the event. 

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Steven Rozenski

Steven Rozenski, a scholar of late-medieval English, German, and Dutch mysticism and devotional literature, earned his Ph.D. in English from Harvard in 2012; hereceived a B.A. from Northwestern in 2002 and an M.Th. from the University of Glasgow in 2003. He has studied in Germany as a Fulbright scholar and conducted research in Italy, England, and Belgium. Currently a Harvard College Fellow, teaching early English poetry and drama, he is at work on a book entitled Wisdom's Journey: Continental Mysticism and Devotional Mobility in Trans-ReformationEngland.

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Matthew Milo Sergi

A.R.T.: Debut. Artist-in-Residence 2012 (Performance), Headlands Center, CA. NYCFringe: Sextuple Indemnity (Xavier), Barrow Street Theatre; Up Your Rabbit Hole (Queen), P.S.122.  Off-Off-B’Way: Enter Pissarro (Pissarro), Machinal (Husband), Access Theater. Regional: 28 Seeds (Zartosky), BCA/Plaza Theatre.  Film: Day of Youth (Birdo). Co-creates experimental performances with Ara Glenn-Johanson in San Francisco and Boston.


Matthew Sergi specializes in medieval English performance, with a growing interest in the History of the English Language.  His research toward his current book project, Play Texts and Public Practice in the Chester Cycle: c. 1421-1607, was awarded the Medieval Academy's 2008 Schallek Grant and a number of other honors.  He has published in the US and UK, where his first article, "Festive Piety: Food and Drink at Chester," earned him the 2012 Barbara D. Palmer Award for Best New Essay in Early Drama Archives Research.  Currently an Assistant Professor ofEnglish at Wellesley College, Matt will move north this fall to become an Assistant Professor of Early English Drama at the University of Toronto. 


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