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Schultz, Elizabeth

Schultz, PhD
Year Inducted: 
Elizabeth Schultz
  • One of the world’s foremost scholars on Herman Melville and his famous work Moby Dick
  •  Taught the very first Ecocriticism course ever offered at a Chinese university while  in China as a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer
  • 1971: Named the KU Outstanding Woman Teacher of the Year
  • 1971: received Standard Oil Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching and the HOPE Award
  • 1984: Awarded the Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award and a Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professorship
  • One of eleven KU women scholars in the book Seeing Female: Social Roles and Personal Lives

Elizabeth Schultz, Professor Emerita of English She served for many years as Chair of the Humanities and Comparative Literature programs.  One former student noted, “As a teacher and scholar she has unusual breadth.  Her writings include literary criticism, poetry, and short stories as well as translations from Japanese into English.”  She is most known, however, for being one of the foremost scholars on Herman Melville and his famous work Moby Dick

Dr. Schultz received her BA in European History from Wellesley College in 1958.  From 1958-1961, she taught English at the high school and junior college levels in Osaka, Japan.  She then returned to the United States to earn her MA and PhD degrees in English and American Literature from the University of Michigan in 1962 and 1967, respectively.  During her post-graduate work, she continued to teach.  From 1963-1966 she was a University of Michigan Great Books Honors Program Teaching Fellow and was a pre-doctoral instructor there from 1966-1967.  Dr. Schultz also spent the summer of 1965 as an English instructor for the Tuskegee Institute.  She arrived at the University of Kansas in 1967, where she remained until her retirement in 2001.  Other teaching locations have included Japan again, where she taught as an American Literature Fulbright-Hays lecturer from 197-1974 and as a Fall 1992 American Literature and Culture lecturer at 7 universities, Africa at the Universities of Ibadan, Makerere, Dar es Salaam during the summer of 1972, Russia, where she taught a New York University summer session at the University of St. Petersburg, and China.  In 2007, she traveled to the Beijing Foreign Studies University in China as a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer.  There she offered courses on American Women Writers and the very first Ecocriticism course to be offered at a Chinese university.

During her 34 years at the University of Kansas, she earned numerous awards for her teaching.  These included the KU Outstanding Woman Teacher Award in 1971, the Standard Oil Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1971, the HOPE Award in 1971, named a Danforth Associate from 1973-1976, the Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award in 1984, and a Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professorship from 1984-1994.   “Her classes, whether on campus or Japanese-style on her living room floor, are always lively and noisy,” one former student commented in regards to her excellence as an educator.  “She has an exceptional ability to communicate her insights and feelings to students, and to draw out those of her students.  Her intellectual passion is contagious, and the students work harder in her courses than in others… [she has a] well-deserved reputation as among the most demanding of instructors at KU.”

Other awards she has been honored with include the John Masefield Prize for Fiction, Wellesley College 1958; the Major Hopwood Award for Fiction, University of Michigan 1962; the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for Graduate Study, University of Michigan 1967; and the National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship in Historical, Social, and Cultural Studies of US Ethnic Minorities, 1974-1975. 

Dr. Schultz is perhaps most known for her passionate scholarship on American author Herman Melville and particularly his seminal work, Moby Dick.  A whale motif is clearly noticeable at both her office and home.  In 1984, she spent her sabbatical researching the influence of the work on 20th century American art, literature, theater, music, cartoons, menus, folk tales, and news items.  She has curated numerous Moby Dick illustration exhibits, included the Spencer Museum of Art exhibit “Unpainted to the Last: Moby Dick and American Art, 1940-90,” funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Dr. Schultz was featured in The Learning Channel’s “Great Books Series” segment on the work, organized a 1991 University of Kansas marathon reading of the book – an effort which took nearly 24 hours to complete, and is a member of the Melville Society.

Professor Schultz is also very involved in women in literature.  She belongs to the National Women’s Studies Association and was one of eleven women scholars from various KU departments contribution to the book Seeing Female: Social Roles and Personal Lives.  With Haskell Springer, she co-edited Melville and Women: A Collection of Essays.  She has taught courses or given lectures on American women fiction writers and on women in literature.  Other areas of interest have included African American literature, art, and poetry, the last two of which she brought together for a Spencer Museum of Art exhibit entitled “Conversations: Art into Poetry.”

She is a member of ACLU, the Mid-Continent American Studies Association, College Language Association, Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice, American Culture Association, Modern Language Association, and Multi-Ethnic Literature Association of the United States.  She served from 1978-1979 as Chair of the Local Equal Opportunities Committee for the American Association of University Professors and was the Associate Editor of American Studies from 1976-1980. 

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