The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Mini-Syllabus: The European Catastrophe

This course will examine how European civilization wrecked itself in the wars of the 20th century and left in its wake a world transformed into what may at times appear to be packs of maddened animals fighting over the scraps. The reading materials will focus on the chronological process of bloody collapse, with various perspectives ranging from those of world leaders to those of average people who frequently did not survive the catastrophe. The reading list is prodigious (select films are also included, and will be screened during class sessions). It is unlikely that students will have much, if any, free time for diversions during the semester. In the wake of such sustained and intensive study of the organized insanity of war, students may not find themselves in the mood for levity in any case. Counseling services will be available as needed through the Campus Health Clinic.

Students will be required to keep a handwritten journal reflecting on the readings, the class and their classmates, the larger world of current events (both in their own lives and in the greater societal context), and anything else they care to write in the little time available. These journals will be due on the last day of class. Failure to turn in a journal will earn the student a failing grade for the class. Students will also be required to lose a minimum of ten percent of their body weight during the semester. The Campus Health Clinic will provide the scales and the logs for tracking weight. There will be no final.

Required Readings

  • Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower
  • Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August
  • Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Max Hastings, Winston’s War
  • Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death
  • John Bierman and Colin Smith, The Battle of Alamein
  • Joseph Heller, Catch-22
  • Max Hastings, Armageddon
  • Barbara Tuchman, Stillwell and the American Experience in China
  • David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter
  • Michael Oren, Six Days of War
  • David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest
  • Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
  • Atticus Lish, Preparation for the Next Life

Recommended Additional Readings

  • Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
  • John Keegan, The First World War
  • Hugh Gibson, A Journal from Our Legation in Belgium
  • John S. D. Eisenhower, Yanks
  • Wilfred Owen, Poems
  • Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vols. I and II
  • Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Art Spigelman, Maus
  • Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn
  • Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle
  • Rick Atkinson, Guns at Last Light
  • Charles MacDonald, Company Commander
  • Antony Beevor, The Fall of Berlin 1945
  • Max Hastings, Retribution
  • Muriel Spark, The Girls of Slender Means
  • William Gass, The Tunnel
  • Donald Knox, The Korean War: Pusan to Chosin: An Oral History
  • James Salter, The Hunters
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Parts I and II


  • Rome, Open City, dir. Roberto Rossellini
  • A Walk in the Sun, dir. Lewis Milestone
  • From Here to Eternity, dir. Fred Zinnemann
  • When Trumpets Fade, dir. John Irvin
  • Die Brücke, dir. Bernhard Wicki
  • The Third Man, dir. Carol Reed
  • Go Tell the Spartans, dir. Ted Post
  • Restrepo, dir. Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington

Recommended Additional Films

  • Berlin Alexanderplatz, Parts I through XIV, dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • The Human Condition, Parts I through III, dir. Masaki Kobayashi

Tetman Callis is a litigation paralegal in Chicago. His short fictions have been published in various magazines, including NOON, New York Tyrant, Litro, Gravel, alice blue review, Identity Theory, Wigleaf, Salt Hill, and White Whale Review. He is the author of the memoir, High Street: Lawyers, Guns & Money in a Stoner’s New Mexico (Outpost19, 2012), and the children’s book, Franny & Toby (Silky Oak Press, 2015).

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