1:16 p.m., April 21, 2010----Zack R. Bowen, an internationally respected James Joyce scholar who was chairperson of the Department of English at the University of Delaware for 10 years, died April 8 at age 75 of complications from Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Bowen was chairperson of English and a member of the UD faculty from 1976-86, when he joined the University of Miami faculty. His son, Zack R. Bowen Jr., of West Chester, Pa., told the Miami Herald that Dr. Bowen had spent years plotting to move to Miami so that he could fish year-round. He was a popular professor there, as well as at UD, and founded the Caribbean Writers Summer Institute.
His academic work produced numerous publications, including the books Musical Allusions in the Works of James Joyce: Early Poetry Through Ulysses; Ulysses as a Comic Novel; A Reader's Guide to John Barth; and, with co-author David Wilson, Science and Literature: Bridging the Two Cultures. In the 1960s, he produced and directed a collection of dramatic readings from Ulysses for Folkways Records, which the Smithsonian Institution re-released in 1993.
An authority on the role of music in Joyce's writing, Dr. Bowen was past president of the James Joyce Society and the International James Joyce Foundation. Colleagues remembered him as a larger-than-life character known for his untraditional methods of supporting his students and faculty members and his exuberance for life, music and fun.
Charles Robinson, UD professor of English who was director of the department's graduate studies under Dr. Bowen, spoke fondly of his “humor and humanity and generosity and outrageousness-all rolled into a 300-pound, cigar-smoking, ex-used-car salesman wearing $1.98 tennis shoes to the office.”
As head of the English department, Robinson recalled, Dr. Bowen increased support for graduate students by creating internships in University offices and private companies that then paid for those students; sent professors out to recruit graduate students at top schools throughout the East Coast; and created a way to make faculty members “feel good about themselves, the department and the University by awarding them 9s on a 1-to-9 evaluation scale.” What the 9-rated faculty members didn't know, Robinson said, was that Dr. Bowen was evaluating some others at rankings from 9-plus to 9-triple-plus.
Bonnie Scott, UD professor emerita of English who now is professor and chair of women's studies at San Diego State University, said Dr. Bowen “brought the zeal of an entrepreneur to the academy, repeatedly launching new initiatives, inviting visiting scholars, overspending the budget and often explaining his way out of it to a sometimes exasperated and often amused Dean Helen Gouldner.” At the same time, she said, he made “an enduring” scholarly contribution to the appreciation and understanding of music in Joyce's work.
“I miss him and the time when he was here,” Robinson said. “I can still hear his laughter echoing through Memorial Hall.”
In addition to Zack Jr., Dr. Bowen is survived by his wife, University of Miami Prof. Lindsey Tucker, who earned her doctorate at UD in 1981; daughters Patricia Bowen Babcock of Wilmington and Janice Tucker Hill of Pittsburgh; and sons Daniel Bowen of Wilmington, Randy Tucker of Islamorada, Fla., and Bruce Tucker of Newark, Del. A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28, at the University of Miami's Lowe Art Museum.