Born in Löbau, Germany, in 1928, he received his doctorate from the University of Leipzig and left Europe for Australia in 1959. After working as Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne and Reader at the University of Adelaide, he was appointed to the newly founded Chair of German Studies at the University of Western Australia in 1965. In 1969, he received the Chair of Germanic Studies at the University of Melbourne. He became an Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne in 1993.
During his professional career, Emeritus Professor Schulz was awarded numerous medals and awards. In 1974, he received the Goethe Award for services to the cultivation of the German language abroad and to the promotion of international cultural cooperation. In 1985, he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) First Class, and the Eichendorff Medal in 1988. He also received the Research Prize from the Humboldt Foundation, which he commenced during the winter semester of 1994-1995. He received honorary doctorates from the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg in 2004 and from the University of Leipzig in 2009.
Emeritus Professor Schulz’s published works, particularly those on German Romanticism, were hugely influential in the field of German studies. His authoritative edition of Novalis’s works Novalis Werke (1969) has been regularly updated, with second and third editions published in 1981 and 1987. These studies provided the foundation for his major work, Die deutsche Literatur zwischen Französischer Revolution und Restauration. This book was in two volumes; the first, Das Zeitalter der Französischen Revolution 1789-1806, was published in 1983 and the second, Das Zeitalter der napoleonischen Kriege und der Restauration 1806-1830, was published in 1989. These tomes are considered benchmark studies of this period in the field of German studies. Emeritus Professor Schulz’s biography of Novalis, Novalis: Leben und Werk Friedrich von Hardenbergs, was published in 2011.
Elected as President of the Academy from 1989 until 1992, he oversaw numerous changes and challenges to the humanities landscape in Australia. From a proposed unification of the Australian Academies of the Humanities and the Social Sciences to a 1991 report criticising the research contributions of the humanities, Emeritus Professor Gerhard Schulz was a staunch defender of the humanities and eminently proud to be President of this Academy. In his 1991 President’s Report, he said:
Even the briefest glimpse at the list of Fellows and Honorary Fellows of this Academy brings to mind the substantial contribution each of them has made or is making to the intellectual identity and national concerns of this country.
He called upon Fellows to “use their often considerable influence and the opportunities they possess for publicising a better-informed view of the humanities.”
Reflecting upon his time as Academy President in 1992, Emeritus Professor Schulz said:
When I was asked three years ago whether I would be prepared to stand for the office of President, and was subsequently elected to it, I was surprised, moved and very worried. Nevertheless, I accepted the opportunity to serve this Academy in its highest office, and then enjoyed this service in an atmosphere of collegiality, mutual respect, and freedom of thought as well as expression. This office has been the greatest honour I have received in my career, and I would like to thank the Fellowship for it.
Emeritus Professor Gerhard Schulz passed away on 23 June 2022. His wife, Christel, had passed away before him. We extend our deepest sympathies to his children, the wider Schulz family, his friends and colleagues.