Jack Lynch

Professor in the English department, of the Newark campus of Rutgers University, specializing in the English literature of the eighteenth century and the history of the English language. Those who have a high tolerance for boredom can peek at my CV, either in its ostentatiously unabridged incarnation or in a slightly more modest shortened version. Those with an even higher tolerance for boredom might look at my musings on a blog, Dull in a New Way. And if you want to make an appointment with me, my calendar will show you when I'm free. (Easy-to-remember version: http://tinyurl.com/LynchCalendar.)

This Summer

I'm working like mad to get my scholarly mojo back, picking up some long-neglected projects and dusting off some older articles. I'm trying to finish up a huge (350,000-word) collection of essays for Oxford called A Handbook of British Poetry, 1660–1800, and I'm at work on a trade book You Could Look It Up: The Reference Shelf from Babylon to Wikipedia (as you can tell, I like modest little projects). Of course I have a few other proposals out there. My next big research project is a biography of Shakespeare forger William Henry Ireland, which should keep me busy for the next few years. And one of these days I hope to finish my facsimile edition of Tristram Shandy, to be accompanied by a huge bibliography of Sterne studies since 1978. I've already done most of the damn work; I should get a payoff.

Next semester I'll have some time to focus on the scholarly proejcts, since I'll spend Michaelmas term (mid-September to mid-December) at All Souls College, Oxford, on a visiting fellowship. My work will also be supported by fellowships from the Bibliographical Society of America, the National Endowment from the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, the Houghton Library at Harvard, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. It's a rough life.

My most recent book, a collection of essays from Cambridge University Press called Samuel Johnson in Context, came out in 2012, and a paperback has just appeared. As I like to describe it, it's not about Johnson himself so much as his world, with chapters on anthropology, authorship, biography, dictionaries, empire, fiction, journalism, London, medicine, money, poetry, sermons, slavery, war, women writers, and so on. I asked the contributors — forty-seven of them! — to think about what they wish their students knew about these subjects before they got to their classrooms. Cambridge done a mighty fine job of it, and produced a real purty book. It's now an unconscionable $105 (or £65) in hardback but, if all goes according to plan, there will be an affordable paperback one of these days.

And of course I continue to tout some recent books that have already appeared. The most recent addition to the Bibliotheca Lynchiana is The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution of “Proper” English, from Shakespeare to South Park, from Walker & Co. (available, of course, from Amazon.com, though the truly virtuous will support independent booksellers).

The one before that was a scholarly book on forgery, fakery, and fraud, Deception and Detection in Eighteenth-Century Britain, published by Ashgate in spring 2008 and now available from Amazon.com. More details on my blog. Other recent books include The English Language: A User's Guide, a much revised and expanded version of my on-line guide to grammar and style. It was published by Focus Publishing, and can be had for $12.95 from Amazon.com. The other is Becoming Shakespeare, a popular history of Shakespeare's Nachleben from his death to his three hundredth birthday. It appeared from Walker & Co. in June 2007, available from Amazon.com, and in a UK-and-Commonwealth edition from Constable & Robinson, available from Amazon.co.uk. So far it's received good reviews. The US paperback has just appeared from Walker in February 2009; and the Korean edition (!) can be had from ChungRim Publishing.

You can also dip into my back catalogue. The US hardcover edition of my abridgment of Johnson's Dictionary should still be available from Walker & Company. (A UK hardcover edition is available from Atlantic Books — new jacket, blue highlights instead of green, and no pussycats — a serious loss, that — but it's the same text. UK-niks can order it dirt-cheap, just fourteen quid, from Amazon.co.uk.) It's a bargain at twice the price, so buy two. And I'm also flogging a just-for-fun little squib, Samuel Johnson's Insults, also available from Amazon.com in hardcover and paperback. There's also a UK-and-Commonwealth edition available from Amazon.co.uk.

That's all on the trade side. In more scholarly publishing, Cambridge University Press published Anniversary Essays on Johnson's “Dictionary,” edited by Yr Humble Svt and Anne McDermott, on 15 April 2005, the 250th anniversary of the Dictionary's original publication. (Okay, I confess: it's mostly an excuse for me to drop the word sestercentenary into conversation.) It's now available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. And Cambridge has just released a paperback, also available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (at almost affordable prices!).

I boasted when my first scholarly monograph, The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson, zoomed up to the 1.5 millionth bestseller on Amazon.com, leaving Distributional Ecology and Abundance of Dung and Carrion-Feeding Beetles (Scarabaeidae) in Tropical Rain Forests in Sarawak, Borneo in the dust at a pitiful number 1.596 million. But a recent check showed it at number 320,499, which is as close to “bestseller” as a professor of eighteenth-century literature is ever likely to see. I've decided, therefore, that I'm now a real-live celebrity, and will no longer waste my time talking with little people like you. I will, however, offer eight-by-ten head-shots, autographed by someone on my staff, for a modest fee.

In case this isn't enough, I edit a 500-page journal every year. From 1998 to 2005 I was Joint Editor, with Paul J. Korshin, of The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual. Paul's untimely death in March '05 forced me to take it over, with the able assistance of J. T. Scanlan of Providence College. The most recent to appear is vol. 22, while vol. 23 is in the works.

The Jack Lynch World Tour, after being on hold while I was deaning, is about to start up again. I was in Providence in August; I'm looking at London, Zurich, and Geneva in November, and Oxford and Amsterdam in January.

Course Materials

The list of courses I've taught was getting too long for this page, so I've moved it all to another page.

All my classes (and anyone who's curious) are encouraged to consult my guide to grammar and style, my in-progress guide called “Getting an A on an English Paper,” and my very rough and incomplete guide to literary terms.


A few chunks of my dissertation are available on-line — but really, would it kill you to pony up the dough for The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson? And as I find the time to post papers I've delivered, they'll appear on their own page.

Personal Stuff

I've collected some miscellaneous links, some of them as close to fun as a downtrodden professor is allowed to get.

Short-Cuts to Pages I Maintain

Contact Me

Please feel free contact me with questions, comments, requests, and recommendations. E-mail is easiest. You can also write to

Jack Lynch
Department of English
Rutgers University
360 M. L. King Blvd.
Newark, N.J. 07102

My office phone is (973) 353-5204, but I check my voice mail only from the office, so it's an unreliable way of reaching me, especially when classes aren't in session.

Some general notes about these pages might make some things clear; you're encouraged to check them out before you contact me.