top of page

John A. Rycenga

Dr. John A. Rycenga, my father, was an English Professor. He earned the Ph.D. at Northwestern University, and taught full-time at Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and Sacred Heart University (Fairfield, Connecticut). His early death in an automobile accident deprived me of the opportunity to really speak with him, as an academic, about academic matters. But over the years I have pieced together most of his academic achievements. I am now sharing them here, and still looking to add items that I discover along the way.


Academic Accomplishments


John A. Rycenga

Born 1/17/1927, Detroit, Michigan

Died 12/21/1968, Bridgeport, Connecticut


Curriculum Vita



Ph.D. Northwestern University, Chicago, 1959.

M.A. Wayne State University, Detroit, 1951.

B.A. Wayne State University, Detroit, 1949.


Graduate Assistant, Northwestern University, Chicago, 1950-51.

Instructor, Wayne State University, 1952-53.

Instructor, Marquette University, 1953-1964, plus summer teaching (1966, 1967)

Professor, Sacred Heart University, 1964-1968.

Courses taught include Freshman English, Sophomore English, upper-division classes in 18th and 19th century British literature


Edited Books

Perspectives on Language: An Anthology. Edited by Joseph Schwartz and John A. Rycenga. New York: Ronald Press, 1963.

The Province of Rhetoric. Edited by Joseph Schwartz and John A. Rycenga. New York: Ronald Press, 1965.


Dissertations and Theses

Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Review and an Estimate. Master’s Thesis. Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. 1950.

Theories and Forms in English Biography, 1836-1899. Ph.D. Thesis. Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. June 1959.

(My family is in possession of additional unpublished material on George Crabbe)



““Hapless Lexicography”: Dr. Johnson and Dictionaries.” Wisconsin Studies in Literature Missing Year, Missing Issue, p. 17-26 (between 1954?-1964)

““Dream-Performances” vs. “Broken-up Beauties”: Browning’s Early Thought.” 45 page unpublished (?) paper from the Marquette years – he indicated it was to be published in a volume of studies from the Marquette English department, ca. 1958-1960

“Understanding Linguistics.” Catholic School Journal June 1967, pp. 27-30.

“Taking a Gamble—One Teacher’s Experience with Assignments in Linguistics.” Connecticut English Journal 1:3:11-15 (1969)



“Rhetoric and Textbooks.” Invitational Talk at CCCC Convention, Minneapolis, MN, April 4-6, 1968.

“English Language Study and Its Relationship to Composition.” Talk given at Marquette? Date uncertain

“Publish or Perish.” Faculty Forum Talk, Sacred Heart University, January 16, 1967.

Luncheon Talk, Sacred Heart University, July 25, 1966; handout only

“Linguistics and the Teacher of English.” Talk for High School English Teachers in the Fairfield (CT) District School system, Andrew Warde High School, April 25, 1966.

Undated talk on Rhetoric (I’d guess ca. 1967)

“The Idea of a University,” 1966. – not sure where this was given – typed copy.

“Linguistics and Composition—Assessing the Continuing Revolution.” Talk for English Association of Greater Milwaukee meeting—UWM, February 8, 1964, as part of “New Directions in Composition.”

“Linguistics and Composition,” delivered to English staff at Dominican High School, January 24, 1964.

“Dr. Johnson and Rhetoric.” Talk at the Johnson Society of the Great Lakes, April 25, 1964.


Reviews - The Library Journal entries need to be checked for page numbers!


Review of The Victorian Poets: A Guide to Research., Edited by Frederic E. Faverty. Renascence 9:3:157-159 (Spring 1957).

Review of Edmund Burke and the Natural Law, Peter J. Stanlis. Marquette Law Review 42:1: 147-150 (Summer 1958).

Review of A Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases in Current English, by A.J. Bliss. Library Journal, January 1, 1967

Review of The Making of English by Bergen Evans and Simeon Potter. Library Journal, November 1, 1967.

Review of Two Approaches to Teaching Syntax, by Marshall L. Brown, et. al. Library Journal, October 1, 1967.

Review of Chaucer Life-Records, edited by Martin M. Crow and Clair C. Olson., Library Journal, March 15, 1967.

Review of Swift: The Man, His Works and the Age, 2 vols. by Irvin Enrenpreis.  Library Journal, May 15, 1968.

Review of Metaphor and Meaning, by Weller Embler. Library Journal, December 1, 1966.

Review of Modern American Usage, by Wilson Follett. Library Journal, January 1, 1967.

Review of Psycholinguistic Nature of the Reading Process, edited by Kenneth S. Goodman Library Journal, June 15, 1968.

Review of Write and Rewrite, edited by John Kuehl. Library Journal, June 15, 1967.

Review of How to Teach Your Students How to Write, by Catherine Lindsay. Library Journal, August 1967.

Review of Linguistics and the Teaching of English, by Albert H. Marckwardt. Library Journal, October 15, 1966.

Review of Dr. Johnson’s London, by Dorothy Marshall. Library Journal, May 15, 1968.

Review of Teaching to Read: Historically Considered, by Mitford M. Mathews. Library Journal, November 1, 1966.

Review of Toward an Effective Critique of American Education, by James E. McClellan. Library Journal, November 15, 1968.

Review of The Presence of the Word: Some Prolegomena for Cultural and Religious History, by Walter J. Ong. Library Journal, December 1, 1967.

Review of Harper’s English Grammar, by John D. Opdycke. Library Journal, January 1, 1967.

Review of Satire and the Novel in Eighteenth-Century England, by Ronald Paulson. Library Journal, October 1, 1967.

Review of Language Today: A Survey of Current Linguistic Thought, by Mario Pei, et. al. Library Journal August, 1967.

Review of Observations and Reflections: Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, by Hester Lynch Prozzi and edited by Herbert Barrows. Library Journal, January 1, 1968.

Review of Linguistics: A Revolution in Teaching,  by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner. Library Journal, February 1, 1967.

Review of Oliver Goldsmith: A Georgian Study, by Ricardo Quintana. Library Journal, November 1, 1967.

Review of So Much Nearer: Essays Toward a World English, by I.A. Richards. Library Journal, February 15, 1968.

Review of The Linguistic Turn: Recent Essays in Philosophical Method, edited by Richard Rorty. Library Journal, May 15, 1967.

Review of Passionate Intelligence: Imagination and Reason in the Work of Samuel Johnson, by Arieh Sachs. Library Journal, August 1967.

Review of Daniel Defoe and Middle-Class Gentility, by Michael Shinagel. Library Journal, March 15, 1968.

Review of Horace Walpole: Writer, Politician and Connoisseur, Essays on the 250th Anniversary of Walpole’s Birth, ed. Warren Hunting Smith. Library Journal, September 15, 1967.

Review of New Rhetorics, edited by Martin Steinmann, Jr.. Library Journal, March 15, 1967

Review of Backgrounds of Romanticism: English Philosophical Prose of the Eighteenth Century, edited by Leonard M. Trawick. Library Journal, November 15, 1967.

Review of Good Writing: An Informal Manual of Style, by Alan H. Vrooman. Library Journal, October 1, 1967.

Review of English Prepositional Idioms, by Frederick T. Wood. Library Journal, April 15, 1967.



Served on Marquette University committee for freshman English

On Faculty Rank and Tenure committee at Sacred Heart University through 1968

Wrote first self-study for Sacred Heart University, December 1968


CV assembled by Jennifer Rycenga, Summer 2016, with ongoing additions since – contact her at jrycenga @ earthlink(dot)net with additions and corrections.

VIAF record permalink 

August63Dad in aTree

Sacred Heart University Momentos

World War II

   John A. Rycenga was a man of peace. He did not want to go to war. He was drafted and entered the service in April 1945, and sent to basic training in Texas. Thus began a family mythology of the horrors of Texas, as he sent reports back to his fiancé Dolores, speaking of the massive bugs, uncouth manners, and mortal dangers of basic training. The image of John A. Rycenga holding a rifle is utterly incongruous with the man I knew.

   When he was ready for service, fortunately the shooting war was over. He was sent to Japan as part of the Occupation Force, where his education and interest generated a plum position for him: Librarian at a base in Kyoto! John spent time with Japanese people, and learned that they, too, had not wanted this war nor its devestating consequences. He always treasured his time in Japan, and there are a few family momentos from his time there. If he had lived, he surely would  have returned to visit that country.

    Upon his Honorable Discharge, he joined the legions of returning veterans to take advantage of the GI Bill, as these papers establish. The GI Bill was a massive social program that helped to educate America, but it was tilted towards white men, so it repeated much historical exclusion. That being said, it did cross class lines quite effectively, and democratized educational access in a generation.

Loved It!




Rycenga Scholarship Award

Established 1969 (?)
Photos from
Award Presentations


Dylan Chizmadia - 2023
Kailey Blount - 2022
Celia Brnetic - 2021
Elizabeth Turello - 202
Sophia Iacono - 201
Hector Gutierrez - 2018
Katherine Keating - 2017

Cory Robinson - 2016
Mark Podesta - 2015

Colleen O’Melia - 2014

Laura Hardt - 2013
missing - 2012
Sam Silliman - 2011

Benjamin Bradley - 2010

missing - 2009

Christina D. Tsimortos - 2008

missing - 2007

missing - 2006

Christopher A. Crutchfield - 2005

Patrick J. Scalisi - 2004

Katie Carroll - 2003

Tom Pesce - 2002

Lauren Testa - 2001

Angela Paulone - 2000

Lori Johnson- 1999

missing - 1998

missing - 1997

Annette Fay Bosley - 1996

missing - 1995

Jason A. Dalrymple - 1994

Joanna Holland - year unknown

1995 three candidates were Jonathan McCarthy, Mattio Valentino and Valerie Vancza                        

1998 two candidates were Suzanna D'Urso and Sara A. Scrofani


Rycenga Symposium

The Rycenga Symposium was a literary and interdisciplinary journal featuring work by Sacred Heart University students. It was published in the late 1970s and early 1980s with funds from the Rycenga Memorial account. The SHU library has added their extant copies to Digital Commons, so they are available on line.

Newspaper notices of John A. Rycenga's death


John A. Rycenga's death in an automobile accident on December 21, 1968, was a shock to many in the communities that knew him. The local papers and the student newspaper at Sacred Heart University ran front page articles on his passing.

bottom of page