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Memoir

Kenneth Thorpe Rowe
Regents' Proceedings 1098

Kenneth Thorpe Rowe, teacher of playwrights and close student of the modern theater, is retiring from the active faculty of the University after forty-three years of service.

Born in Iowa Falls, Iowa, in 1900, Professor Rowe went south to Rice Institute for his college education, and there earned bachelor and master's degrees while assisting in both biology and English. During the next four years, from 1924 to 1928, he taught English at the University of Oregon and earned a master's degree from Harvard. Coming then to The University of Michigan as Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, he was subsequently advanced to a professorship in the English Department. During the year 1945-46, he took leave to conduct a seminar in playwriting for the New York Theatre Guild. In 1951 he held a visiting appointment at Columbia University.

Professor Rowe's early interest in English Renaissance literature comprised an interest in Shakespeare's plays, which he continued to teach throughout most of his tenure. He developed an expert knowledge of modern dramaturgy during the thirties and forties, teaching playwriting and theatre-workshop courses and participating wholeheartedly in the work of special-interest organizations like the American Educational Theatre Association and the National Educational Community Theatre War Council. He attained in the end an unusually comprehensive overview of happenings in world theatre. On campus, he created a curriculum in play-writing almost single-handedly, supervising carefully the maiden efforts of successive generations of students and seeing many of these works locally performed and entered successfully in the Hopwood Contest. A few of his students, like Arthur Miller, have gone on to national and international fame; all have enhanced their understanding of dramatic craft. He further distilled his long experience into a pair of books, one on dramatic writing and the other on dramatic criticism.

The Regents of the University are deeply beholden to Professor Rowe, whose expertness in his fields of art and craft has proved of steady value over the years and seems now virtually irreplaceable. As they appoint him Professor Emeritus of English, they trust that he will long enjoy the associations and satisfactions, which his capable fidelity has earned.