Josh Epstein, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Stratford Hall Room 202

B.A. 2003 University of Puget Sound
M.A., Ph.D. 2008 Vanderbilt University

On the PSU faculty since 2014

FIELDS: Modern British literature; film studies; media studies; musicology/adaptation studies; critical theory


Josh Epstein researches and teaches in 20th-century Anglophone modernism, critical theory, sound studies, film, musicology, and adaptation studies. After receiving his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, he served as an academic adviser, as an ACLS Fellow at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and as an assistant professor at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. Prof. Epstein's first book, Sublime Noise: Musical Culture and the Modernist Writer, explores the relationships among modernist literature, music, noise, and aural culture. In addition to forthcoming publications, he has published in Textual Practice, James Joyce Quarterly, and Victorian Literature and Culture, and presents regularly at the Modernist Studies Association conference. He is currently at work on a new project about the documentary filmmaker and amateur anthropologist Humphrey Jennings, focusing on how Jennings's filmic, literary, and anthropological work addresses the media ecology and material culture of post-WWII Britain, producing newly textured ways of reading and narrating citizenship. At PSU he teaches a range of classes, including undergraduate and graduate modernism courses; "cluster" courses on modern British lit, race and melodrama, film history, and critical film theory; major authors courses on James, Conrad, and Joyce; and advanced topics courses on the aesthetic and cultural theory of failure. Further information can be found on his personal webpage,

Prof. Epstein remains, even in the teeth of recent catastrophes, a loyal Denver Broncos fan, and he has made it his ambition to write at least one publishable word at every coffee shop in Portland. He is kept grounded by faithful canine friend Murphy, who is much more fun to be around than his literary namesake (the Samuel Beckett character), and every bit as coherent.


SCHOLARSHIP (published and forthcoming):

  • Sublime Noise: Musical Culture and the Modernist Writer. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. (Reviewed in Times Literary Supplement, Modernist Cultures, James Joyce Quarterly, American Literary Scholarship, and elsewhere.)
  • "Ezra Pound's Musical Compositions," The New Ezra Pound, ed. Mark Byron (Cambridge UP; forthcoming).
  • "Open City's 'Abschied': Teju Cole, Gustav Mahler, and Elliptical Cosmopolitanism." Studies in the Novel (forthcoming).
  • "'We are a musical nation': Under Milk Wood and the BBC Third Programme." Modern Drama (forthcoming).
  • "The Antheil Era: Pound, Noise, and Musical Sensation." Textual Practice 28.6 (online at
  • "Joyce's Phoneygraphs: Music, Mediation, and Noise Unleashed." James Joyce Quarterly 48.2
  • "Neutral Physiognomy: The Unreadable Faces of Middlemarch." Victorian Literature and Culture 38.1


  • Review of Michelle Witen’s James Joyce and Absolute Music, for The Review of English Studies.
  • Review of David Deutsch’s British Literature and Classical Music: Cultural Contexts, 1870–1945, for Journal of British Studies.
  • Blog on Daniel Cavicchi’s Listening and Longing: Music Lovers in the Age of Barnum, for Modernism/modernity‘sRe/discoveries


  • “Nuclear Family Portrait: Humphrey Jennings, the Pattern Group, and the Festival of Britain.” Paper for the Modernist Studies Association conference (Columbus, OH), November 2018.
  • “Observations of Industrial Listening: War Factory and Listen to Britain.” Position paper for “Modernism and Mass-Observation,” seminar at Modernist Studies Association conference (Columbus, OH), November 2018.
  • Seminar Leader: “Cruel Modernisms.” Modernist Studies Association (Pasadena, CA), November 2016.
  • “Listening Out to Britain: Civic Soundscape in Humphrey Jennings.” Invited Talk for the Musicology Faculty, University of Oxford (UK), May 2016.
  • “Lend Me Your Ears: Civic Soundscape in Humphrey Jennings’s Listen to Britain.” Paper for the Modernist Studies Association conference (Pittsburgh, PA), November 2014.
  • Seminar Leader: “New Adornos.” Modernist Studies Association conference (Pittsburgh), November 2014.