Buhler, Stephen M. 1954-

views updated

BUHLER, Stephen M. 1954-

PERSONAL: Born October 23, 1954, in Brooklyn, NY; son of William (an athletic trainer) and Barbara (Birkbeck) Buhler; married Carla Rosenquist, August 27, 1983; children: Teresa. Education: California State University—Long Beach, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1976; University of CaliforniaLos Angeles, M.A., 1983, Ph.D., 1989. Hobbies and other interests: Theater, music.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—Department of English, 202 Andrews, University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0333. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Teacher of English and religious studies at a parochial school in Long Beach, CA, 1976-84, chair of English department, 1978-80; University of Nebraska—Lincoln, assistant professor, 1989-95, associate professor, 1995-2002, professor of English, 2002—. Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music, member of board of directors, 1991-97; Lincoln Community Playhouse, member of board of directors, 2001—; dramaturge, text editor, musician, composer, actor, and director for local stage productions. Nebraska Public Radio Network, commentator on cultural issues and current events, 1993—; speaker for schools and civic groups. Miltones (music ensemble), performer.

MEMBER: Modern Language Association of America, Renaissance Society of America, Milton Society of America (life member), Shakespeare Association of America, Spenser Society of America.

AWARDS, HONORS: Research fellow, Huntington Library, 1996.


Shakespeare in the Cinema: Ocular Proof, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 2002.

Contributor to books, including Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," edited by Maurice Hunt, Modern Language Association of America (New York, NY), 2000; and Shakespeare after Mass Media, edited by Richard Burt, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2002. Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including English Literary Renaissance, Milton Studies, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Renaissance Quarterly, and Spenser Studies.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Waking Bliss: Milton, Music, Authority; Subtle Pleasures: Epicurus in Early Modern Literary Culture; research on Shakespeare in twentieth-century music.

SIDELIGHTS: Stephen M. Buhler told CA: "My primary motivation as writer, teacher, and scholar is to point out existing connections and to inspire new ones. My work regularly begins with the literary culture of the Early Modern period in England, but it then traces that culture's indebtedness to the classical past or its impact on later times, especially through the performing arts. Over the years, a sense of performance has continued to animate and energize my teaching and to inform my scholarship.

"My interest in performance has been complemented by careful instruction in literary, cultural, and intellectual histories. I was very fortunate to have studied at the University of California in Long Beach with Edward A. Gosselin, a leading scholar on Giordano Bruno who presented his students with a deft combination of traditional 'history of ideas' approaches and daring invitations to develop their historical imaginations to the fullest. Similarly, at the University of California in Los Angeles, I was privileged to work with Michael J. B. Allen, a leading expert in the philosophy of Marsilio Ficino, as well as in the expanse of English literature. Under Allen's tutelage, I was able to engage more thoroughly with the currents and crosscurrents of Renaissance thought reflected in writers' borrowings from (and arguments with) classical philosophy.

"While at the University of California, I also met two professors who would confirm my interest in integrating textual and performance approaches to literary study and instruction. Albert D. Hutter, in his Shakespeare courses for non-majors, made effective use of the talents of any theater majors who had enrolled, skillfully coaching these students into realizing strikingly different interpretations of a given scene for the benefit of their classmates. Christopher Grose made use of his musical talents in adapting the works of John Milton into folk and blues idioms; a scrupulously close reader of literary texts and of cultural intertexts in his own scholarship, Grose brought the same alert intelligence to his negotiations between twelve-bar blues and epic poetry—and to his performances on the harmonica. I quickly joined the 'Miltones,' a loosely organized but widely known ensemble; I have contributed vocals, guitar, and compositions to the ongoing project.

"It is not surprising, then, that when I started teaching at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, I frequently employed performance strategies in helping students to connect with Early Modern literature. Settings of Shakespeare's sonnets, in a wide range of pop music genres, were added to the Miltonic material; examples include a country-ballad version of Sonnet 18 ('Shall I compare thee to a summer's day') and a Seattle-grunge rendering of Sonnet 129 ('The expense of spirit in a waste of shame'). I added excerpts from screenplays to screenings of film and video renderings of Shakespeare's plays, the better to examine the strategies of adaptation and the interpretive choices made in response to Shakespeare's texts; the published screenplays for Laurence Olivier's and Kenneth Branagh's films of Henry V illuminated the directors' distinctive visions of a common theatrical source.

"In 1992 I began a life-enhancing and career-enriching experience at the Folger Shakespeare Library. 'Shakespeare and the Languages of Performance' was the title of a humanities institute hosted by the Folger and directed by Lois D. Potter of the University of Delaware. In this program, college instructors from across the country and from institutions ranging from community colleges to small liberal arts campuses to large, state-run universities were brought together one weekend a month through the course of an academic year. The goal was to discover, together, ways of bringing the clarity and excitement of stage performance to bear in our classrooms. Together we witnessed and critiqued several performances of Early Modern plays (having access to the theater scene in Washington, DC, was invaluable). Each month, we shared what we discovered when we applied new insights to classroom teaching. The institute encouraged me to bring more of the clarity and excitement of performance—not only stage and screen productions, but also musical compositions or concerts or recordings—to bear in my research and my general writings.

"Since that experience, I have published widely in performance-based pedagogies, on appropriations from Shakespeare in mass-market culture (from Star Trek and Steve Martin to pop music lyrics), on film adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, and on the cultural politics of music in Milton's poetry and in subsequent settings of my verse. Most recently, Mark Morris's modern dance choreography for Handel's 'L'allegro, il penseroso, ed il moderato' gave me an opportunity to consider how intensely felt the cultural resonances of individual adaptations can be. I have also continued to publish on topics related to the impact of ancient philosophic traditions (especially Epicureanism) on the literary culture of the Renaissance. The three major strands of my research—pedagogy, performance, and philosophy—are closely interrelated.

"I have extended my teaching and learning to somewhat nontraditional settings: contributing commentaries on the state's public radio system; presenting talks (and often performing) for schools and civic groups across Nebraska; serving as dramaturge, text editor, musician, composer, actor, and director for numerous local stage productions. Not surprisingly, many of the shows have been Shakespearean or have involved music and performance thematically as well as practically (such as Warren Leight's Side Man). My work with theater groups constitutes a form of community service; it also provides an experiential foundation for classroom engagements with performance and archival research into adaptational practices."



Cineaste, winter, 2002, Kenneth Rothwell, review of Shakespeare in the Cinema: Ocular Proof, p. 52.