Lynch, Jack (John T. Lynch)
Lynch, Jack (John T. Lynch)
Education: University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 1989, Ph.D., 1998.
Writer and educator. Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, assistant professor, 1998-2004, associate professor of English, 2004—. Guest on television and radio programs.
Andrew W. Mellon dissertation fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, 1987-1997; Diane Hunter Dissertation Prize, University of Pennsylvania Department of English, 1998, for best dissertation; Raymond K. Denworth fellowship, Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2002; Monroe Kirk Spears Award, Studies in English Literature, 2002, for "Samuel Johnson's ‘Love of Truth’ and Literary Fraud"; Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence, Rutgers University, 2004-05; David Hosford scholarship, Rutgers University.
A Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1986-1998, preface by Paul J. Korshin, AMS Press (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor) Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Selections from the 1755 Work That Defined the English Language, Levenger Press (Delray Beach, FL), 2002.
(Editor) Samuel Johnson's Insults: A Compendium of Snubs, Sneers, Slights, and Effronteries from the Eighteenth Century Master, Walker (New York, NY), 2004.
(Editor, with Anne McDermott) Anniversary Essays on Johnson's Dictionary, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard, Walker (New York, NY), 2007.
Deception and Detection in Eighteenth-century Britain, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2008.
Editor, The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual.
Contributor to books, including Encyclopedia of Computer Science, edited by Anthony Ralston, Edwin D. Reilly, and David Hemmindinger, 4th edition, Macmillan (New York, NY), 2000; Literature and Digital Technologies: W.B. Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Mary Shelley, and William Gass, edited by Karen Schiff, Clemson University Digital Press (Clemson, SC), 2003; Comparative Excellence: New Essays on Shakespeare and Johnson, edited by Eric Rasmussen and Aaron Santesso, AMS Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to journals and periodicals, including Eighteenth-Century Life, Review of English Studies, Studies in English Literature, Journal of the History of Ideas, Studies in Philology, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Texas Studies in Literature & Language, Yeats Eliot Review, Translation and Literature, Journal of Anglo-Italian Studies, Journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Examiner, Scriblerian, American Scholar, Notes & Queries, and Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries.
Also author of the blog Dull in a New Way.
Jack Lynch is a writer, historian, and professor of English at the Newark campus of Rutgers University. As an academic and researcher, he specializes in the English literature of the eighteenth century, with an additional focus on the works of Samuel Johnson and William Shakespeare. A prolific author and contributor to scholarly journals, Lynch has also given many lectures and conference presentations on subjects in his academic area. He serves as a reader and referee for several journals and academic publishers.
Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Selections from the 1755 Work That Defined the English Language contains some 3,100 entries culled by Lynch from Johnson's seminal dictionary from 1755. In addition to its historical significance, however, Johnson's dictionary still has relevance to the English spoken today, Lynch stated in an interview on the Levenger Press Web site. "The age of Johnson was an important time for the English language," Lynch commented. "Historical linguists say we've been speaking modern English since around 1500, but the English spoken a century before Shakespeare doesn't look very modern to our eyes. For most readers, the language only starts to look familiar in the eighteenth century," during the period when Johnson codified the language in his dictionary. In terms of Johnson's qualifications to freeze and define the English language, Lynch stated: "It's hard to imagine anyone better. He combined a scholar's knowledge with a poet's sensitivity to the language."
In The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson, Lynch provides an in-depth and scholarly assessment of how Johnson and his contemporaries viewed the Elizabethan age. The way in which Johnson's age perceived Elizabethan times "must affect how subsequent ages perceive both ages," remarked Bernice W. Kliman in Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England. Cover- ing the time period in which Johnson worked, from the late 1730s to the early 1770s, Lynch examines the "multiple meanings associated with the age of Elizabeth during the years of Johnson's professional activity," and how those meanings connect with the contemporary concepts of British national and cultural identity, commented Martine Watson Brownley, writing in Albion. With this work, "Lynch has produced a set of excellent essays on related or recurring themes around an important topic, all of which work individually and together to illuminate how an age of consolidation and refinement used an earlier era of recovery and expansion to understand, define, regulate, and ultimately judge itself," Brownley remarked.
A different sort of Johnsonian dictionary can be found in Lynch's Samuel Johnson's Insults: A Compendium of Snubs, Sneers, Slights, and Effronteries from the Eighteenth Century Master. Sharp-tongued Johnson was a master of the use of invective, and this book contains more than 300 of his "nastier barbs and their meanings," noted an Internet Bookwatch contributor. Lynch provides not just definitions, but information on the origins of the quips and insults, thus offering additional insight into Johnson's sources and thought processes. The Internet Bookwatch reviewer called the book "highly entertaining."
Lynch again devoted some professional attention to Johnson's linguistic work, serving as the editor of Anniversary Essays on Johnson's Dictionary, with Anne McDermott. A number of prominent scholars contribute fourteen essays that address both familiar and little-known aspects of Johnson's work on the dictionary. Among the topics covered are the patronage that helped bring the dictionary into existence; the typographical design of Johnson's work; the politics of the day that influenced Johnson and his dictionary; and the techniques Johnson used to handle definitions of compound words. Lynch and McDermott "provide an overview of scholarship" that exists on Johnson and his phenomenal reference book, reported a reviewer in Reference & Research Book News.
Lynch traces the events that led to the creation of a towering figure in English literature in Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard. Though Shakespeare's works were immensely popular in his time, the Puritan culture that reigned shortly after the Bard's death succeeded in closing all of England's theaters in 1642. When Charles II reopened the theatres during the Restoration in 1660, Shakespeare's works had long been out of the public's mind and were all but forgotten. Yet they had not been completely extinguished. In a slow process, Shakespeare's works were rediscovered, revived, and set once again on the stage. In the process, they were rewritten, censored, criticized, co-opted, and forged. Even during these difficult days, however, Shakespeare's works retained their powerful attraction, and little by little, those who resurrected, reworked, analyzed, and adapted the plays moved them along the way toward iconic status. Lynch traces the rise of the playwright's work from nearly-forgotten to the pinnacle of the English literary canon. Ray Olson, writing in Booklist, called Becoming Shakespeare "a book for Shakespeareans of all stripes to relish with gusto." In assessing the work, a Kirkus Reviews contributor concluded that it is "pitched just right for students of literature, Shakespeareans and those interested in the history of drama: a witty and appealing story of how a superstar was born."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Albion, spring, 2004, Martine Watson Brownley, review of The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson.
Booklist, July 1, 2007, Ray Olson, review of Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard, p. 20.
Choice, April, 2001, R. Stuhr, review of A Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1986-1998, p. 1436; September, 2003, E.J. Jenkins, review of The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson, p. 221; December, 2003, W.L. Svitavsky, review of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Selections from the 1755 Work That Defined the English Language, p. 682.
Internet Bookwatch, February, 2005, review of Samuel Johnson's Insults: A Compendium of Snubs, Sneers, Slights, and Effronteries from the Eighteenth Century Master.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2007, review of Becoming Shakespeare.
Library Journal, May 15, 2007, Shana C. Fair, review of Becoming Shakespeare, p. 90.
Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, annual, 2006, Bernice W. Kliman, review of The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson, p. 220.
Modern Language Review, July, 2006, Allan Ingram, review of The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, Volume 15, p. 820.
Modern Philology, November, 2004, Barrett Kalter, review of The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson, p. 279.
Notes and Queries, June 2004, R.S. White, "An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy," review of The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson, p. 196.
Publishers Weekly, April 9, 2007, review of Becoming Shakespeare, p. 45.
Reference & Research Book News, February, 2001, review of A Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1986-1998, p. 190; February, 2004, review of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, p. 216; August, 2006, review of Anniversary Essays on Johnson's Dictionary.
Renaissance Quarterly, summer, 2004, Paul Budra, review of The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson, p. 726.
Review of English Studies, May, 2002, Min Wild, review of The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, Volume 11, p. 268; November, 2004, Melanie Bigold, review of The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, Volume 14, p. 805; June, 2006, Aaron Santesso, review of The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, Volume 16, p. 416.
Times Literary Supplement, August 15, 2003, Brian Cummings, "Now in Then," review of The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson, p. 23.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), August 25, 2007, "To Be or Not to Be? Death Seems to Have Provided William Shakespeare the Best Route to Superstardom," review of Becoming Shakespeare, p. 3.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (June, 2004), Daniel Woolf, review of The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson.
Jack Lynch Home Page,http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch (January 8, 2008).
Levenger Press Web site,http://www.levenger.com/ (January 8, 2008), "Jack Lynch on Samuel Johnson," interview with Jack Lynch.