Vale Philip Thomson FAHA: 1941 – 2022

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The Australian Academy of the Humanities acknowledges with sadness the passing of Emeritus Professor Philip Thomson FAHA, an eminent literary theorist and critic. He was elected to the Academy in 1991.

Philip Thomson completed his studies at the Newcastle University College of the University of New South Wales in 1961, where he graduated with First-Class Honours in French and German. He went on to complete a Diploma in Education before going to Germany on a German Exchange Service scholarship. On his return in 1967, he took up a teaching fellowship at Monash University and began a PhD examining the grotesque in modern German poetry, 1880 – 1933.  

In 1968, he was appointed as a lecturer and later senior lecturer at Monash University. He took up a Humboldt Research Fellowship in Germany between 1971 and 1972. 

Between 1979 and 1981, he was Director of the Centre for General and Comparative Literature and in 1990, Professor Thomson was appointed to the Chair of German Studies at Monash University, a position he held until his retirement in 2001. Between 1999 and 2001, he headed the School of European Languages and Cultures. 

Professor Thomson was a member of many learned societies: the Modern Language Association of America, the International Brecht Association and the Australian Universities Language and Literature Association. A prolific and gifted author, some of his most notable works include The Grotesque (1972), The Grotesque in German Poetry (1975) and The Poetry of Brecht: Seven Studies (1989).  

He will be remembered fondly by his students as a witty and personable teacher with a fierce intellect.  

Professor Philip Thomson passed away on 30 May 2022. His wife, Helen, passed away some years before, in 2016. We extend our deepest sympathies to his children, Miranda and Guy, his family, his friends and his colleagues.  

Read an obituary for Philip Thomson written by Andrew Milner (PDF, 105 kB)

In memory of our Fellows

Our Fellows, current and those who have died, have contributed extensively to the rich Australian humanities community. When an Academy Fellow dies, we honour their impact by publishing an obituary by another Fellow who has had a long and close association with them.

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The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.