DepartmentTorrey Honors Institute
Biola AffiliationsEmployee, Faculty

Documents

Degrees

  • Ph.D., University of Southern California
  • M.A., University of Southern California
  • B.A., University of California, Los Angeles

Member of

Biography

Dr. Joshua Smith is a literary scholar with a primary interest in both the nineteenth century and American West. As a professor at the Torrey Honors Institute, he also teaches the classics, the knowledge of which he employs to explore the intellectual influences on important American thinkers, writers and historical developments. He is most interested in the ways that American territorial expansion and frontier mythology shape antebellum writing and national identity. Looking far beyond traditional frontier themes in literature, his research on the influence of the West on American narrative has forged links between such disparate subjects as Nat Turner, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Ellison and Quentin Tarantino. The relationship between the South and the West is of particular interest to him. He pays attention to the historical interdependence of these two regions of the country, but also to the curious western trek of minstrelsy and other lampoons of southern life and culture to Hollywood.
As an accomplished alto saxophonist, he explores the relationship between music and thought. In particular, he is interested in the ways that jazz exposes a rich intellectual tradition and both parallels and informs literary production. Understanding jazz to be a way of thinking and not merely an artistic style, he employs his creative acumen to exploit the inherent musical quality of oral communication. As a public speaker, he is attuned to the same performance dynamics as an artist. His saxophone sensibilities equip him as an orator to improvise and compose words in ways that mimic musical and theatrical nuances.
Though animated, humorous, thought-provoking and explosive on stage, Dr. Smith, like many academics, is an introvert in an extrovert’s world. He’s learned how to turn the socially awkward into social empowerment. The life lessons he’s picked up along the way have translated into compelling talks on leadership and emotional intelligence. Dr. Smith is a highly requested campus and conference speaker who engages audiences with both a personable and inspirational style.

Awards

2014 Outstanding Dedicated Service, Western Regional Council on Black American Affairs

2004—2005 English Department Fellowship, University of Southern California

2004 Louis Owens Minority Travel Grant, Western Literature Association

1998—2003 Teaching Fellowship, University of Southern California

1996—1998 Academic Advancement Program Scholarship, University of California, Los Angeles

1995—1997 University of California Regents Scholar, University of California, Los Angeles

Publications (Selected)

  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin Showdown: Harriet Beecher Stowe and southern expansionism in Django Unchainedessay in Race and Gender in the Weird Western, an anthology. (Forthcoming).
  • The Technology of Blackness: Race and Art as Applied Science in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Django Unchained in collection of essays produced from Biola Faculty Integration Seminar, “Technology and Christian Faithfulness.” (Forthcoming).
  • The Counterintuitive Liberator." Biola University Advent Project—January 2014.

Presentations

  • Racial Battle Lines and Through Lines: Nat Turner, Hollywood and the story arc of slave revolt in Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation.” Paper presented at the Conference of the Western Literature Association, Big Sky, Mont.—September 2016. (Forthcoming)
  • If He Hollers Let Him Go: Chester Himes, Quentin Tarantino and the Making of Black Criminality in Los Angeles.” Paper presented at the Conference of the American Literature Association, Boston, MA, May 2015.
  • Detective Fiction and The Protest Novel: The Influence of Richard Wright and Raymond Chandler on Chester Himes’s If He Hollers Let Him Go. Paper presented at the Conference of the Western Literature Association, Reno, Nev.—November 2015.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin Showdown: Stowe, Tarantino and Southern Expansionism in the American West.” Paper presented at the Conference of the Western Literature Association. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, November 2014.
  • Racial Reconstruction and the Post-Soul Western: The Legacy of Civil War and Civil Rights in Percival Everett's God's Country." Paper presented at the Conference of the Western Literature Association. Los Angeles, California, October 2005.
  • The Mobility Trope in Black Western Literature: Race and Space in Taylor Gordon’s Born to Be” Conference of the Western Literature Association. Big Sky, Mont.—October 2004.
  • Racial Topography and Cross-Regional Exchange: Miscegenation and Frontier Adventurism in Black Mystery and Science Fiction.” Conference of the Western Literature Association. Houston, Texas—October 2003.
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