A group photo including USC Dornsife Dean Amber D. Miller, USC Provost Charles Zukoski, and Professor Anne Goldgar

History Department on a Path to Preeminence Thanks to USC Dornsife Alumna

Goldgar Installed as Inaugural Van Hunnick Chair in European History
On Jan. 8, USC Dornsife Dean Amber D. Miller and USC Provost Charles Zukoski introduced Professor Anne Goldgar as the inaugural holder of the Garrett and Anne Van Hunnick Chair in European History within the USC Dornsife Department of History.

An award-winning historian, writer and scholar, Goldgar will enhance learning opportunities for not only students of European history, but all students at USC Dornsife. Said Miller: “It would be nearly impossible to find a scholar more fitting of the Van Hunnick Chair and vision behind it.”

A Scholastic Honor

Zukoski describes the Garrett and Anne Van Hunnick Chair, the first he has installed as Provost at USC, as a prestigious position that creates a “virtuous cycle” of chairs. As renowned experts in their fields, chair holders attract the brightest scholars from around the world, who in turn attract top students. These students conduct their own research as they strive to make a lasting impact on the world and follow in the footsteps of the chair holder from whom they learned. Thus the cycle continues, with the chair holder serving as “the catalytic element that enables us to sustain the virtuous cycle,” according to Zukoski.

With an extensive and decorated career in the field of education, Goldgar is the embodiment of the catalytic element and the ideal scholar to possess the inaugural Van Hunnick Chair.

A Distinguished Curriculum Vitae

Goldgar has studied many aspects of the social and cultural history of early modern Europe, such as the history of scholarship, print, art and science. Her research places a substantial emphasis on the Netherlands and Francophone cultures.

After graduating summa cum laude from Princeton, Goldgar continued her education at Harvard, earning her M.A. and Ph.D. Shortly thereafter, she served as an Arts and Sciences Faculty Fellow at New York University and as a Stipendiary Research Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge University. Most recently, she held a professorship at King’s College London, teaching early modern history.

While establishing herself as an educator, Goldgar also captivated readers, both within and outside the academy. Some of her notable pieces include Impolite Learning: Conduct of Community in the Republic of Letters 1680-1750 (Yale University Press, 1995) and Tulipmania: Money, Horror, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age (University of Chicago Press, 2007), the latter of which garnered both the Leo Gershoy Award from the American Historical Association and the Elisabeth MacDougall Book Award. Goldgar was also solicited by the media during the recent Bitcoin currency craze as investors searched for similarities between Bitcoins and the Dutch tulip frenzy of the 17th century referenced in her book Tulipmania. Goldgar’s research disproved the story of an economic collapse and “saved a lot of people a lot of time looking for irrelevant clues,” Miller said. Miller continued by stating, “It’s critical that historians like Professor Goldgar are out in the world — giving us the straight story, challenging assumptions, and giving us the perspective to make good choices.”

In addition to her book awards, Goldgar is a Fulbright Scholar, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and an elected member of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde, a prestigious Dutch literary society comprising only 1,600 members.

Today, Goldgar has immersed herself in the study of the social, economic and cultural ramifications of the late 16th to early 17th centuries. She is particularly fascinated by the Dutch involvement in the Arctic. In conjunction with her endowment and professorship at USC Dornsife, she will continue compiling information for a monograph about Dutch identity and representation following an Arctic stranding on Novaya Zemlya from 1596 – 97.

Commemorating a Family Legacy

The Garrett and Anne Van Hunnick Chair in European History is the enduring dream of Elizabeth and Wilhelmina Van Hunnick realized. For many years, the Van Hunnick sisters desired to commemorate their parents, Garrett and Anne Van Hunnick, with a chair endowment at USC.

Garrett and Anne immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands and established a small dairy farm. As a result of their obligations to their family and their farm, Garrett and Anne never had the opportunity to pursue an education. That did not prevent them, however, from instilling in their daughters the importance of a higher education and the value of understanding their European heritage. These values inculcated in Elizabeth and Wilhelmina ultimately paid off when both sisters were accepted into USC.

As students, both Van Hunnick sisters became members of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and Elizabeth, a USC Dornsife alumna, also joined Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Maintaining their parents’ view on education, Elizabeth and Wilhelmina embarked on teaching careers in the hopes of bequeathing their love of learning to subsequent generations. Avid travelers, the Van Hunnick sisters made several voyages to the Netherlands, where they visited family and immersed themselves in Western European culture. These treks to their parent’s homeland as well as the value of education passed on to them inspired the sisters to support an endowed chair at USC Dornsife with an emphasis on Western Europe.

Prior to establishing the Van Hunnick Chair, Wilhelmina passed away in 2009. A decade later, Elizabeth is pleased to see her and her sister’s shared dream come to fruition in the appointment of Goldgar, a scholar of their parents’ homeland.

The Future of European History at USC Dornsife

In his closing remarks, Zukoski stated, “Without a sense of the complex culture and economic connections that created our current and local conditions, we will make poor choices about our future.”

An understanding of our past is a vital tool with which Professor Goldgar aims to equip all of her students, as she expressed, “I will honor in my work the connection that Elizabeth and her sister have to the culture and history of their ancestors. In a wider sense, I want to thank the Van Hunnicks for their understanding that the history of Europe has a more general value for our understanding of Western civilization and the way the modern world is developed.”

As the inaugural holder of the Garrett and Anne Van Hunnick Chair in European History, Goldgar is enthusiastic about joining USC Dornsife when her appointment begins in the fall and acknowledges that her research “will be greatly aided by the opportunities I have been offered by Elizabeth Van Hunnick, by the history department, and by USC more generally.



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