June 21, 2012

English professor and writer Dan McCall dies

Memorial service scheduled
A memorial service for Dan McCall has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20, at 11:30 a.m. in the Anabel Taylor Chapel on campus.

Dan E. McCall, a novelist, scholar and Cornell professor of English emeritus, died in Ithaca June 17 at the age of 72.

McCall joined the Cornell faculty in 1966 and taught here for four decades.

His 1974 novel, "Jack the Bear," was translated into a dozen languages and made into a well-received 1993 Hollywood movie starring Danny DeVito. His other fiction includes "Bluebird Canyon" (1983), "Queen of Hearts" (1985), "Triphammer" (1991) and "Messenger Bird" (1993). McCall's critical and scholarly books include "The Example of Richard Wright" (1969), "The Silence of Bartleby" (1989), "Citizens of Somewhere Else" (1999) and "The Norton Critical Edition of Melville's Short Novels" (2002). He was also the author of many scholarly articles.

Dan McCall
McCall

"He was a loyal friend, a gifted writer and a passionate advocate for the causes that mattered, principally his students' involvement in the great human resource that was literature," said Lamar Herrin, Cornell professor of English emeritus.

During a 2004 visit to campus, novelist Lorrie Moore, MFA '82, said of McCall: "He was greatly admired in an old-fashioned way, his literary taste was deemed demanding and true, and tales of his witty displeasure and stern, pedagogical deadpan assisted us in our work."

McCall received a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, from Stanford University in 1962, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and his doctorate from Columbia University in 1966. Among other honors, he received a Danforth Fellowship in 1962, Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships in 1972 and a PEN Achievement Award in 1985. He served as a visiting professor at the University of California-Berkeley; the University of Nice, France; and the Claremont Colleges.

McCall spoke to Cornell alumni clubs across the country, and he taught classes at Cornell's Adult University. He served on the Cornell Council for the Arts and was a member of Cornell's American studies program.

"Dan had a mischievous and irreverent sense of humor, and he was a genuinely passionate teacher of writing and of American literature," said Roger Gilbert, chair of the Department of English. "His lecture courses on the American novel were among the most popular ever offered by the English department."

Calling hours will be held 12:30 to 2 p.m. Friday, June 22, at Herson Funeral Home, Ithaca. Friends and colleagues are invited to an open house later that day, 4 to 6 p.m., at 108 Midway Road, Cayuga Heights. A Cornell memorial service will be held in the fall.