|Born||January 9, 1937|
|Occupation||Writer, editor, lecturer|
|Education||University of Chicago (B.A.)|
|Notable awards||National Humanities Medal|
Joseph Epstein (born January 9, 1937) is an American writer who was the editor of the magazine The American Scholar from 1975 to 1997. His essays and stories have appeared in books and other publications.
Epstein was born to Maurice and Belle Epstein in Chicago, Illinois on January 9, 1937. He graduated from Senn High School and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He served in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1960, and received a Bachelor of Arts in absentia from the University of Chicago in 1959.
Epstein has published a number of essays and essay collections, including Plausible Prejudices: Essays on American Writing, published in 1985. Epstein's essay "Who Killed Poetry?", published in Commentary in 1988, generated discussion in the literary community decades after its publication.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Epstein received increasing criticism for commentary widely regarded as anti-feminist, as well as for his "one-sided" management of the editorial page. He compared feminist scholars at various times to “pit bulls” and “dykes on bikes”. In 1991, he was the subject of an op-ed by Joyce Carol Oates calling for his resignation: “It is an embarrassment that Joseph Epstein should have been its editor for so many years. His resignation is long overdue.” He met with further criticism for giving cultural conservatives as Gertrude Himmelfarb and Dinesh D’Souza a platform in the journal, and his failure to offer space for their adversaries.
In 1996, the Phi Beta Kappa senate voted to remove Epstein as editor of The American Scholar at the end of 1997. The decision was controversial, and Epstein later claimed that he was fired "for being insufficiently correct politically". Some within Phi Beta Kappa attributed the senate's decision to a desire to attract a younger readership for the journal. Upon Epstein’s eventual firing, a former president of Phi Beta Kappa said: “He has been driving people crazy for years. What has changed is that more and more senators were elected who are uncomfortable with the totally one-sided views in the journal.”
In September 1970, Harper's Magazine published an article by Epstein called "Homo/Hetero: The Struggle for Sexual Identity" that used the word "nigger" to describe being gay and was criticized for its perceived homophobia. Epstein wrote that he considered homosexuality "a curse, in a literal sense" and that his sons could do nothing to make him sadder than "if any of them were to become homosexual." Gay activists characterized the essay as portraying every gay man the author met, or imagined meeting, as predatory, sex-obsessed, and a threat to civilization. In the essay, he says that, if possible, "I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth," a statement that was interpreted by gay writer and editor Merle Miller as a call to genocide. A sit-in took place at Harper's by members of the Gay Activists Alliance.
In 2015, Epstein wrote an article for the Weekly Standard in which he mentioned the Harper's article from 1970. He wrote, "I am pleased the tolerance for homosexuality has widened in America and elsewhere, that in some respects my own aesthetic sensibility favors much homosexual artistic production... My only hope now is that, on my gravestone, the words Noted Homophobe aren’t carved."
In a December 2020 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, he suggested that Jill Biden stop using the academic title "Dr.," which she earned as a Doctor of Education, saying that it "feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic." The piece, which opens by addressing her as "Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo," was criticized on Twitter by several public figures. He also critiqued the title of Biden's dissertation, Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students' Needs, calling it "unpromising."
Northwestern University and its English department (where he worked as a visiting adjunct lecturer from 1974 till 2002) each released a statement condemning Epstein's opinion. The University wrote, "Northwestern is firmly committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, and strongly disagrees with Mr. Epstein’s misogynistic views," and noted that it was nearly 20 years since his employment there. The university also removed Epstein's page from its website, where he had been listed as an emeritus lecturer of English.
Presented content of the Wikipedia article was extracted in 2020-12-20 based on https://en.wikipedia.org/?curid=1896957