Greetings, web traveler. You have reached the webpage of Josh Epstein, Assistant Professor of English at Portland State University. Try to contain your excitement.


Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, coming of age at the height of the Elway Era and working the occasional stint slinging java at the Tattered Cover Book Store, I graduated from the University of Puget Sound, where I briefly majored in music composition and theory before moving into the much more forgiving territory of English literature. I spent the bulk of my 20s (tempus fugit) in Music City USA, where I earned an M.A. and Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University, serving as a graduate fellow of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities; and then worked as a Senior Lecturer and faculty academic advisor.

In 2010, I moved to the idylls of Santa Barbara, CA, where I worked for two years as an ACLS Fellow at UCSB, working with the Center for Modern Literature, Materialism, and Aesthetics and teaching classes in 20th-century British literature, urban modernism, media theory, Joyce, Stoppard, and literary/musical adaptations. From 2012-2014 I was a member of the faculty at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. I have since returned to the Pacific Northwest as a member of the Portland State University English Department. Various teaching materials can be found here.

Sublime Noise cover

My first book addresses the intersections among noise, literature, music, and aesthetic theory. I argue that noise operates as a symptom of art’s economic and social condition: both writers and composers think about noise as the point where the material and social value of their art becomes audible. Focusing on writers such as James Joyce, E.M. Forster, Edith Sitwell, T.S. Eliot, Theodor Adorno, and Ezra Pound, as well as composers such as George Antheil, William Walton, and Benjamin Britten, this project merges literary and cultural studies with the so-called “new musicology.” (Largely for my own amusement, I also created a Spotify playlist to accompany the book.)

I am also working on a project that addresses the cultural politics of the British Arts Council, the BBC Third Programme, the “Mass Observation” movement, and the 1951 Festival of Britain: large-scale investigations of how “High Culture” might redress flagging post-war morale, a trenchant economic recession, contracting imperial influence, and general malaise among the British populace. As part of this project I have worked my way into a new obsession with the British documentary filmmaker, amateur sociologist, surrealist, and anthologist Humphrey Jennings.


4 thoughts on “Home

  1. Dr. Epstein, I just found out that you are gone from TAMUCC. Sad for us and happy for you. I really enjoyed your class and scholarship. Have fun in Portland and keep it weird and enjoy the cooler climate. Boiling/oven/hair dryer hot here!

  2. Looking forward to reading your book. You are missed at TAMU-CC. Yesterday I found out Margaret Atwood is coming to read for our CC Literary Reading Series. I immediately thought of your Canadian Lit class with fondness. I’ll be at my house in Whistler January – March. If you ever want a long weekend of snowboarding or skiing – you have a free place to sleep and I hear the cook is pretty fab! Bring a friend….you should have my email address after Brit Lit aka Canadian Lit. Enjoy the West Coast and the new job. Tina Buchan

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