Jack Sullivan (literary scholar)

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Jack Sullivan (born November 26, 1946) is an American literary scholar, professor, essayist, author, editor, musicologist, concert annotator, and short story writer. He is one of the leading modern figures in the study of the horror genre, Alfred Hitchcock, and the impact of American culture on European music.

His critically acclaimed Elegant Nightmares: The English Ghost Story From Le Fanu To Blackwood (1978) examines the works of several recognized masters of the ghostly tale, including E. F. Benson, H. Russell Wakefield, Oliver Onions, and Walter de la Mare; separate chapters are devoted to full, in-depth studies of Sheridan Le Fanu, M. R. James, and Algernon Blackwood. A companion volume, Lost Souls (1983), is a collection of English ghost stories with stories from these and other practitioners of supernatural fiction, such as L.P. Hartley, Arthur Machen, Robert Aickman, and Ramsey Campbell.

Probably his most notable contribution to the historical study of the horror genre to date has been the mammoth The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural (1986), which he edited. Hundreds of entries and literary essays are provided on a variety of subjects, topics and writers, contributed by such genre luminaries as Ramsey Campbell, Kim Newman, T. E. D. Klein, John Crowley, Colin Wilson, Thomas M. Disch, Ron Goulart, Whitley Strieber, Jacques Barzun (who provided the lengthy Introduction, "The Art and Appeal of the Ghostly and Ghastly"), and many others. The volume offers a very broad definition of the term "horror", from the 18th century concept of the Sublime to the music of Bernard Herrmann, and consequently several of the entries are much more eclectic than many reviewers expected.[citation needed] It was immediately recognized as one of the definitive reference works on the subject.[1]

Sullivan has edited an anthoogy, Words on Music (1990), and written two music-related book length studies, New World Symphonies: How American Culture Changed European Music (1999), and Hitchcock's Music (2006). Words on Music is a collection of essays on music chosen for their literary quality and appeal to a large audience, including George Bernard Shaw on Beethoven, George Eliot on Richard Wagner, G. K. Chesterton on Gilbert and Sullivan, and Jacques Barzun on opera. New World Symphonies analyzes the transformative influence of American literature, music, and mythology on European music. Praised in publications ranging from the New York Times to Billboard, it covers the impact of spirituals, jazz, Broadway, Hollywood, American landscape, and authors such as Poe and Whitman. Hitchcock's Music illuminates the importance of music in Hitchcock's films, detailing his collaborations with composers such as Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann and John Williams, and singers such as Marlene Dietrich and Doris Day. It was cited by The Observer as best film book of the year and won the "2007 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award".[2] Sullivan's 2013 script for "New York Philharmonic's Hitchcock!", a presentation of Hitchcock's film music at Lincoln Center, was narrated by Alec Baldwin and Sam Waterston.[3]

His literary and music essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, The New Republic, Saturday Review, USA Today, and Harper's Magazine. His short fiction was published in The Kelsey Review and New Terrors (edited by Ramsey Campbell).

Sullivan is currently a professor and the Director of American Studies at Rider University, Lawerenceville, NJ.

He has a wife, Robin, and two sons, David (1995) and Geoffrey (1994).



  1. . B. Williams, "A Complete Guide for all lovers of horror" (Review of The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural). The Courier-Mail, January 31, 1987.
  2. ASCAP (October 15, 2007). "2007 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award". Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. New York Philharmonic. "The Art of The Score: Film Week at the Philharmonic – Hitchcock!". Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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