Michael MANHEIM

Obituary
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MANHEIM Michael Michael Manheim, 82, died Wednesday night, January 5, 2011, at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, NH. Sole child of Leonard and Eleanor Manheim of New York, he was born in Manhattan on March 4, 1928. After graduating from the High School of Music and Art, where his father taught, he went to Columbia University, receiving his BA, MA, and PhD in English Literature. Professor Manheim first taught English for eight years at the University of Delaware, and then spent over thirty years at the University of Toledo, for many years as Chair of the English Department (and in other administrative positions), teaching Shakespeare and modern drama. He was the author of three books, including The Weak King Dilemma in the Shakespearean History Play, one of the first to reconsider the Henry VI plays, and Vital Contradictions, on Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, and O'Neill, in addition to many articles, papers, and reviews. As well, he edited a collection of essays by O'Neill scholars, The Cambridge Companion to Eugene O'Neill. He was a past president of the Midwest Modern Language Association, and for three years he was president of the Eugene O'Neill Society. The University of Toledo gave him an Exceptional Merit Award and twice honored him with its Outstanding Teacher Award. Perhaps his most widely cited book was Eugene O'Neill's New Language of Kinship, in which he describes the playwright's dialogue as a "rhythm of alternating hostility and affection, both sincere and both temporary." The O'Neill of the late plays shows us that "where there is contact, no matter how painful . . . there is life-and where there is withdrawal there is death." Of the many positive responses this book inspired, he most appreciated those like one in a piece of private correspondence from actor Bill Moor, who played Captain Cecil Lewis in the 1985 José Quintero/Jason Robards production of The Iceman Cometh: "I had reached the point where I wanted to deepen the characterization and needed another perspective to help me do it. . . . [The book] opened up the play for me, gave me the freedom to look again at everything . . . and to reinforce convictions about what transpires in the play." Though he achieved high professional standing, Professor Manheim wrote not just for professional colleagues, but for playgoers and readers of literature, those with whom the authors he studied most urgently wanted to connect. Having come to know New England during childhood summer visits to Lake Winnipesaukee and as a camp counselor when he was in college, Professor Manheim was in residence at Dartmouth College as a scholar in 1969-70 and again in the summer of 1972 as a teacher. After moving to Strafford in 1987, he became active in the community in many ways. He taught courses for ILEAD, the continuing education program sponsored by Dartmouth, and as founder of a community theatre group in Strafford he directed six plays, including Chekhov's Three Sisters and Stoppard's Arcadia, staging well appreciated productions of challenging plays with performers who had little or no experience on the stage. He played tuba and sousaphone in various regional band ensembles including the Upper Valley Community Band, and sang in the choir at the United Church of Strafford, where he served terms as a trustee. Immediate surviving family members are his wife, Martha; his two sons, James and Daniel, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Danville, Kentucky, respectively; his daughter-in-law Marie, and his grandson, Marc. Memories of Professor Manheim may be recorded at the online site Michael-Manheim.virtual -memorials. com , and donations in his name may be made to the Vermont Food Bank or to the charity of your choice. Arrangements are under the direction of the Boardway & Cilley Funeral Home in Chelsea, VT.

Published in Toledo Blade on Jan. 14, 2011
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