Dr. Lee Krähenbühl (he/him/his) is Chair of the Department of Communication and Director of the Graduate Program in Communication Studies at Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Maryland, where he serves as Professor of Communication in the School of Design. He is a past President of the Maryland Communication Association, and has taught Communication, Entertainment History, Theatre, and World Religions at the college and university levels for over thirty years. Dr. Krähenbühl is also a singer/songwriter, actor, director, designer of both traditional and online curricula, and scholar of the interaction of the performing arts and religious movements in the Western hemisphere from the precolonial era to the present, with special emphasis on North America in the nineteenth century.
Welcome, and thank you for visiting this archive of my professional, scholarly, and creative work. I’m a university professor, undergraduate and graduate program administrator, entertainment historian, world religionist, actor, director, and singer / songwriter. I have taught Communication, Theatre, and Religious Studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels since 1987. I am also a family history enthusiast.
In sum, taking a cue from World Religions scholar John L. Esposito, I am a “StoryDweller”—as are we humans all.
There are as many forms of StoryDwelling as there are people. My own current research and writing prospectus includes a chronicle of the Coggeshall family of performers, and the first biography of “The Rocky Mountain Hunter” Joseph Smith Lee, Sr. (1839-1922). I am also biographer of the actor and elocutionist Thomas Ackley Lyne (1806-1890). In 1844, Lyne staged the earliest stage productions sanctioned by any American English-speaking religious community, a full generation before any other faith tradition followed suit. Mine is the only book-length study of his complicated, fascinating, and influential life.
Music can tell stories, too. Since 1993, Dr. David Frantz and I have been collaborating on free-form acoustic songs that we call Living Room Music (find us on Facebook by clicking here). From 2012 through 2017, David and I were Artists-in-Residence for the formerly-titled Randall L. Tobias Leadership Conference. The on-site compositions from those years are available for listening here on the Living Room Music page. I was also a founding member of the folk band Kindling (1998-2003). My daughter—the writer, artist, and musician Brooks Krähenbühl Eisenbise—and I have appeared as featured performers at On Earth Peace’s annual itinerant Song and Story Fest. My stepdaughter Rachel Smith’s band, Daisy Road, is active in the greater Washington, DC area. She and my stepsons and daughter-in-law are all also active in community education.
I live in Fairland Heights, Maryland, with my wife, Nancy Laubach Smith.
My site logo (right) depicts the ground plan of the theatre at Epidauros, the most perfectly preserved performance space that has survived from the ancient world.
The inscription, “στην αρχή ήταν η παράσταση” — “In the beginning was the performance” — takes its inspiration from the opening passage of John Dominic Crossan’s study The Historical Jesus (HarperCollins, 1993). Crossan starts his book by echoing the first sentences of both the book of Genesis (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”) and of John’s gospel (“In the beginning was the word”):