Published October 22, 2015
Mark Shechner, longtime English department faculty member and noted James Joyce scholar, died Oct. 16 in his home in Buffalo after a short illness. He was 75.
Shechner was born in Newark, New Jersey, where as a child he read science fiction books and dreamed of becoming a physicist.
After two years of studying physics at the University of California, Berkeley, he switched gears to literature, going on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. He returned to Berkeley to earn his doctorate.
Shechner came to UB in 1970, joining a renowned English faculty that included critic Leslie Fiedler and poet Robert Creeley. He served as department chair at various points during his more than 40-year tenure at the university and retired in 2012 as a professor emeritus.
During his career at UB, Shechner influenced many students who went on to have successful writing careers and credit him with providing encouragement and advice.
Among his peers, Shechner was best known for his work as a scholar of Jewish literature and of the Irish writer James Joyce. His publications include “Joyce in Nighttown: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry into ‘Ulysses.’” (1974), "After the Revolution: Studies in Contemporary Jewish-American Imagination" (1987) and "The Conversion of the Jews and Other Essays" (1990).
Shechner also organized or co-organized many Joyce-related events in Buffalo, including annual city walks in celebration of “Bloomsday” and a 2009 symposium attended by more than 200 Joyce scholars from around the world.
He twice served as a Fulbright lecturer on American literature — at the University of Kobe and Doshisha University, both in Japan, and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the University of Tel Aviv.
He also is known locally for the numerous book reviews and travel articles he wrote for The Buffalo News.