Bertrand Goldgar

Tag: Bertrand Goldgar

Lawrence University Mourns the Death of Professor of English Bertrand Goldgar

It is with great sadness that we share with you the news of the death of Professor of English and John N. Bergstrom Professor of Humanities Bertrand A. Goldgar. The longest-serving full-time member of the faculty in Lawrence history, Professor Goldgar passed away the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 14. He was 81 years old.

Bert-Goldgar_web.jpgBorn in Macon, Georgia, Goldgar joined the Lawrence English department in 1957. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. Over the course of his 52-year teaching career, he established himself as one of Lawrence’s greatest scholars. Known for his reverence for the written word, he was admired as a literary historian and editor.

His expertise focused on 18th-century literature, including Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, and he was considered one of the world’s leading scholars of Henry Fielding. He was a key participant in the authoritative Wesleyan edition of Fielding’s works, editing several volumes to great acclaim. His 1976 book, “Walpole and the Wits: The Relation of Politics to Literature, 1722-1742,” remains a standard work for historians and literary scholars alike. His scholarship was recognized with fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Last October, Goldgar was among the guests of honor at a major conference in Dublin to celebrate the inauguration of the 15-volume Cambridge University Press edition of the complete works of Swift, for which he served as co-editor of the first volume, “English Political Writings 1711-1714: The Conduct of the Allies and Other Works.” He was nearly finished with a second volume for the edition at his death. He was one of only three American editors working on the Swift project.

Goldgar was considered by some to be the “academic conscience” of Lawrence for the seriousness of his approach to scholarship and to liberal arts education, and for his unabashed opposition to anything that would diminish the academic standards and integrity of the institution.

He was widely regarded as one of Lawrence’s most dedicated teachers and was much beloved by several generations of students, both for his classroom style and for his near round-the-clock availability to students. He remained in regular contact with scores of former students after their graduation.

He reveled in his reputation as a “curmudgeon,” but those who knew him best knew he was a kind and beloved curmudgeon. His wit and humor were familiar both to students – he was often ribbed in The Lawrentian – and to friends and colleagues in the Union Grill, where he was a lunch-hour fixture.

In honor of his 50th year of teaching, more than 60 alumni and friends attended a surprise golden anniversary “Bert-Day Party” in September 2007 and presented him with “The Berton Anthology,” a collection of satirical writings in 18th-century style by former students about Goldgar and the Lawrence English department.

At the 2008 commencement, Goldgar was presented the college’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship in recognition of his sustained scholarly excellence and for exemplifying the ideals of the teacher-scholar. He also was the recipient of Lawrence’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1976. He was appointed to the endowed John N. Bergstrom Professor of Humanities chair in 1981.

He is survived by his wife, Corinne, two children, Ben, 52, Chicago, and Anne, 50, London, and two grandchildren, Sarah, 21, and Leah, 17.

If you would like to make a gift in memory of Professor Goldgar, an endowed fund in his name has been established by a group of his former students. Gifts in Professor Goldgar’s memory can support this endowed fund by sending a check to: Lawrence University Office of Development, 711 E. Boldt Way SPC 18, Appleton, WI 54911-5699, or online.

A memorial service for Professor Goldgar will be held Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010 at 2 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Jill Beck, President

David Burrows, Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Lawrence University Scholar to Edit Major Volume of the Political Writings of Jonathan Swift

Bertrand A. Goldgar, the John N. Bergstrom Professor of Humanities and Professor of English at Lawrence University, has been named by the Cambridge University Press as a contributing editor to a landmark new edition of the works of Jonathan Swift.

The United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Board has awarded a grant of £553,661 over five years (approximately $1.02 million) to support the compilation of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift, which will be published in 15 volumes between 2006 and 2011. The multi-volume edition will be the first scholarly edition of Swift’s collected works in 40 years and, according to the Cambridge University Press, will be the first ever to provide full textual and explanatory information for Swift’s texts.

Funding from the grant will support the creation of an electronic archive of all the authoritative texts of Swift’s prose and assist the general editors, Claude Rawson (Yale University), Ian Higgins (Australian National University, Canberra), and David Womersley (University of Oxford), in the preparation of the texts for the printed edition.

The Anglo-Irish author Swift, born in Dublin in 1667, is widely acknowledged as the foremost satirist in the English language. Best known, perhaps, for his novel “Gulliver’s Travels” (1726), which was intended as a satirical indictment of human nature, Swift wrote extensively, with an array of books, political pamphlets, prose, letters and poetry to his credit.

Goldgar’s contribution to the Cambridge edition, “Swift’s English Political Writing, 1711-1714,” covers Swift’s literary engagement in the politics of early 18th-century London. Although he formerly considered himself a Whig in terms of political philosophy, Swift joined the Tories in 1710 and edited the Tory Examiner for a year. A staunch defender of the Tory party and its leadership, Swift turned his biting satire against the Whigs and their policies, producing such influential political pamphlets as “The Conduct of the Allies” (1711), “Remarks on the Barrier Treaty” (1712) and “The Public Spirit of the Whigs” (1714).

In “The Conduct of the Allies,” Swift claimed that Whig self-interest was instrumental in needlessly prolonging the War of the Spanish Succession, a charge that is said to have led to the dismissal of the commander of the anti-French alliance, British general John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough.

A member of the Lawrence University faculty since 1957, Goldgar is an internationally recognized expert on 18th-century political satire and one of the world’s leading scholars on the life and work of “Tom Jones” creator Henry Fielding.

He is the author or editor of seven books, including “The Curse of Party: Swift’s Relations with Addison and Steele” (University of Nebraska Press, 1961); “The Literary Criticism of Alexander Pope” (University of Nebraska Press, 1965); “Walpole and the Wits: The Relation of Politics to Literature, 1722-1742” (University of Nebraska Press, 1976); “Henry Fielding, The Covent-Garden Journal and A Plan of the Universal Register-Office” (Wesleyan University Press, 1988); “Miscellanies by Henry Fielding, Esq., Volume 2” (Wesleyan University Press, 1993); “Miscellanies by Henry Fielding, Esq., Volume 3: Jonathan Wild” (Wesleyan University Press, 1997); and, most recently, “The Grub Street Journal, 1730-1733” (Pickering & Chatto, 2002), a four-volume edition with introduction and annotation. He also wrote the Afterword for “Plagiarism in Early Modern England” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).