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Edward T. Callan

by Jeanne Baron

Nov. 22, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Edward T. Callan.
Dr. Edward T. Callan, an internationally known scholar and critic and a former Western Michigan University faculty member, died Nov. 17. He was 93.

A native of Ireland, Callan lived in South Africa for many years before emigrating to the United States in 1952. After teaching stints at Fordham and Loyola universities, he settled in Kalamazoo in 1957, teaching English at WMU until his retirement in 1983 after 26 years of service to the University.

Callan, professor emeritus of English, was an authority on the works of famed poets W.H. Auden and William Butler Yeats as well as on the literature, history and politics of South Africa. He also was one of the University's most honored faculty members.

In 1983, Callan was appointed a Distinguished Faculty Professor, WMU's highest faculty honor, and in 1980, he was named a Distinguished Faculty Scholar, WMU's highest scholarly award.

His writings include more than 100 articles and books, including books on Auden, the South African writer and humanitarian Alan Paton, and Zulu chief and Nobel Peace-Prize laureate Albert Luthuli. His essays and reviews appeared in publications such as London Magazine, Dublin Magazine, Saturday Review, the Times of London and the New York Times Book Review.

Callan was a leading figure in the creation of WMU's African Studies Program and was active on a variety of campuswide and departmental committees and councils, including the Faculty Senate. He held appointments as an examiner of doctoral theses and as a visiting professor or lecturer at leading universities around the world.

After retirement, the Kalamazoo resident compiled two theatrical one-man shows on figures from Irish literature. "I Am of Ireland," which is about Yeats, debuted at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and later was performed in Rome and Belfast, Ireland, as well as at WMU. "Molly's Only Playboy," which is about J.M. Synge, was staged in Kalamazoo's Epic Theatre in 2002.

Callan served in the South African army during World War II as a forward observer with the 6th South Africa Armoured Division and British 8th Army.

He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, teaching credentials from Teachers College (Johannesburg), master's degree from Fordham University and a doctoral degree from the University of South Africa. He also did post-doctoral study at Oxford University.

Burial took place Nov. 20. Visit to make a guestbook entry.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or St. Joseph Catholic Church.