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University Relations

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Aug. 23, 2006
Contact: Mary Jane Dunlap, University Relations, (785) 864-8853.

Retired KU English professor receives Fulbright award to teach in China

LAWRENCE — Elizabeth A. Schultz, a University of Kansas professor emerita of English, has won a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer Award to teach at the Beijing Foreign Studies University in February 2007.

Schultz will teach the first course on ecocriticism offered in a Chinese university. In addition, Schultz will teach a course on American women writers.

In preparation, she is enrolling in Chinese language classes offered by KU’s newly established Confucius Institute at the Edwards Campus in Overland Park. She has been working by e-mail for several years with a friend in Beijing to translate articles related to environmental issues in China.

“This is the first time a course on the relationship between literature and the environment will be taught in China, and I am delighted to have been chosen to introduce concepts which are critical to understanding the necessity of sustaining the environment in all its diversity and wonder,” Schultz said.

For the ecocriticism class, Schultz said she intends to include Henry David Thoreau as well as 20th century Native American authors on her book list. Among American women writers, she plans to include books by contemporary authors Gish Jen, an Asian-American; Toni Morrison, an African-American; and Willa Cather, the daughter of Nebraska pioneers with European roots.

The trip will be Schultz’s fourth to China. In 1988, she visited China with KU faculty colleagues Haskell Springer in English and Ann Schofield and Norman Yetman in American studies to discuss creating an American studies exchange program with four Chinese universities. Though the plan was abandoned following the 1989 violence in Tiananmen Square, the preliminary visits put Schultz in touch with several Chinese colleagues. She has remained in contact with several — sometimes through graduate students from China studying at KU.

“I feel a wonderful circle is continuing when I go back to China,” Schultz said.

Schultz is among 29 faculty Fulbright scholars selected to go to China for the 2006-07 academic year, the largest Fulbright group selected for a single country. When Schultz attended a Fulbright orientation recently in Washington, D.C., she learned that among the 29, she is the only one selected to teach American literature. She also learned the academic emphasis in the work of a significant number of these 29 is on the environment.

“China is the only country in which the Chinese Ministry of Education has an equal role with the Fulbright Commission in selecting lecturers,” Schultz said. She and others regarded the number of environmentalists in their group an indication of China’s increasing concern for environmental issues. The Fulbright scholars with environmental interests hope to organize a conference on the environment in China during the spring.

This is not the first time that Schultz has returned to the classroom since her retirement in May 2001 after teaching 34 years at KU. Last summer she taught at the New York University summer institute at the University of St. Petersburg in Russia.

This is her second Fulbright award. Schultz was a Fulbright lecturer in Japan in 1973-74. She has also been an NEH Fellow and received numerous teaching awards, including a HOPE award, bestowed by KU students, and a Standard Oil award for excellence in teaching; in addition, she was a Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professor.

Throughout her career, Schultz has researched and written on 19th century American fiction; African-American fiction and autobiography; American women’s writing; and Japanese literature and culture. Her recent books include Unpainted to the Last: Moby-Dick and Twentieth-Century American Art (1995); Shoreline: Seasons at the Lake and two published this year: Melville and Women, a collection of essays edited with Haskell Springer; and Conversations: Art into Poetry at the Spencer Museum of Art.

One of the oldest and largest international exchange programs in the world, the Fulbright Scholar Program offers grants for college and university faculty and administrators to lecture and conduct research in 140 countries. The Fulbright Scholar Program is administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

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