Greetings, web traveler. You have reached the webpage of Josh Epstein, Associate 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 occasionally slinging java at the Tattered Cover Book Store, I graduated from the University of Puget Sound, where I briefly majored in music theory before moving into the more forgiving territory of English literature. I spent the bulk of my 20s 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.
From 2010 to 2012, I served as an ACLS Fellow at UC Santa Barbara, 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. After spending two years as a faculty member at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, I returned to the Pacific Northwest in 2014 to join the Portland State University English Department to teach classes in modernism, film studies, and critical theory.
My first book addresses the intersections among noise, literature, music, and aesthetic theory. 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, I examine modernists’ ongoing searches for aesthetic forms through which to engage with the noise of modernity; to recalibrate the boundaries between “noise” and “music” as forms of sound and as cultural value judgments; and to amplify the resonances of literature and music in the public sphere.
More recently, I have published essays about Dylan Thomas’s radio play Under Milk Wood; Teju Cole’s gestures to late Mahler; and the relationships between modernist music and technology as represented in GPO documentary films. 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 filmmaker, amateur sociologist, surrealist, and anthologist Humphrey Jennings.
My first book addresses the intersections among noise, literature, music, and aesthetic theory. 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, I argue that modernist writers and composers treat noise as a symptom of art’s economic and social conditions. (I also created a playlist to accompany the book.)
“Me, Me, Me!”
Google Scholar Profile
Sublime Noise (book)
Sublime Noise playlist (Apple Music)
Blogroll & Enthusiastic Endorsements
Bigger 6 Collective
Dipankar Ghosh (Chess Grandmaster and Coach)
Duane Hulbert: Learn and Love Music
Equal Opportunity Reader
Gray Sound (U Chicago)
Jesús González-Monreal (Audophilia)
Julie Beth Napolin
Phantom Power Podcast
Richard Epstein Poems
Third Angle New Music
Things and Stuff
BBC Radiophonic Workshop Simulator
BBC Third Programme Radio Scripts
Byrd Central (William Byrd Quatercentenary)
Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project
Every Noise at Once
Festival of Britain (Designing Britain)
King Albert’s Book (1914)
Kronos Quartet: 50 for the Future
Leonard Bernstein’s Harvard Lectures
Noise: A Human History
The Roaring Twenties
Save Our Sounds
Scoring the City
Up the Academy
AAUP – PSU
International E. M. Forster Society
International T. S. Eliot Society
James Joyce Quarterly
Johns Hopkins University Press
Modernist Journals Project
Modernist Studies Association
Portland Center for the Humanities (PSU)
Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities
Studies in the Novel
The Space Between: Lit and Culture, 1914-1945
Victorian Literature and Culture
Yale Modernism Lab
4 thoughts on “Home”
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!
So nice of you to write, Chimene! I enjoyed working with you — keep in touch!
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
Many thanks, Tina – good luck in grad school. Say “hi” to Margaret Atwood for me – I’m jealous!