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Mackey, Peter Francis (Pete Mackey)

Mackey, Peter Francis (Pete Mackey)


Education: Case Western Reserve University, B.A., M.A.; University of South Carolina, Ph.D.


Office—Bucknell University, 701 Moore Ave., Lewisburg, PA 17837. E-mail—[email protected]


University of South Carolina, Columbia, former lecturer and communications officer; Science Foundation Ireland, Dublin, former interim director of communication; Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Lansdowne, VA, former director of public affairs; Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, chief communications officer, 2006—.


Chaos Theory and James Joyce's Everyman, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 1999.


Peter Francis Mackey's Chaos Theory and James Joyce's Everyman provides a new perspective on the critical analysis of Ulysses by the famous Irish author. Mackey, according to Journal of Modern Literature critic Sheldon Brivic, "attempts to use the recent mathematical concepts known as chaos theory to describe Ulysses, and, especially, the role of Leopold Bloom." As Craig Monk commented in the Modern Language Review, Mackey "proceeds from the assertion that chaos theory combines the best aspects of both the ‘mechanical model’ of science and the ‘postmodern language model’ of the humanities." Monk went on to explain: "Specifically, Bloom's encounters with the apparently accidental occurrences of everyday existence are contextualized here in light of chaos theory."

Reviewing the book in Studies in the Novel, Geert Lernout similarly observed that Mackey "intends to investigate the role of chance, contingency, and freedom in Leopold Bloom's reality and Mackey's choice of chaos theory (or theory of complex systems), and not the uncertainty principle, is indicative of the overall subtlety of his approach." Lernout further explained: "Using the terminology of chaos theory, [Mackey] describes Bloom's contingent relationship with a world that is both random and ordered…. For Mackey, Bloom is no doubt the central character of this novel and thus a kind of modernist Everyman."

Criticism contributor Pericles Lewis called Chaos Theory and James Joyce's Everyman "a remarkably intelligent work, full of a deep understanding of Ulysses and reflecting a passion for both scientific and humanistic inquiry." Monk had qualified praise, concluding: "While the book too often seems more useful in its explanation of chaos theory than it is in providing new insights into Joyce's masterpiece, Mackey's ultimate faith in our common ability to negotiate the twists and turns of a destiny of which we have but an inkling sharpens the effect of finishing Ulysses again, a significant achievement eighty years after the novel's first publication." Brivic, on the other hand, felt that "while Mackey is often thoughtful and perceptive, he is not above tendentious reading."



Criticism, fall, 2001, Pericles Lewis, review of Chaos Theory and James Joyce's Everyman, p. 484.

Journal of Modern Literature, summer, 2000, Sheldon Brivic, review of Chaos Theory and James Joyce's Everyman, p. 575.

Modern Language Review, April, 2001, Craig Monk, review of Chaos Theory and James Joyce's Everyman, p. 479.

Studies in the Novel, fall, 2002, Geert Lernout, review of Chaos Theory and James Joyce's Everyman, p. 337.


Bucknell University Web site, (March 12, 2007), brief biography of Pete Mackey.

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