Assistant Professor of English at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

Book Review Editor of African American Review. Click here for review copy address and disclaimer.

Appointee to MLA Committee: Committee on the Literatures of People of Color in the United States and Canada



NEW! I wrote the introduction to the 40th anniversary edition of Albert Murray’s Stomping the Blues.

Table of Contents
1. Edited Books
2. Peer-reviewed Articles and Chapter
3. Cultural Journalism and Consulting
4. Academic Credentials
5. Teaching
6. Presentations
7. Works In Progress
8. Mailing Address

Edited Books

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 4.59.51 PM
Murray Talks Music: Albert Murray on Blues and Jazz (2016)
University of Minnesota Press | Amazon | Review in The Nation
LOA coverLibrary of America #284: Albert Murray: Collected Essays and Memoirs (fall 2016)
co-edited with Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Library of America | Amazon | Review in The New York Times
Rifftide hi res cover
Rifftide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones as told to Albert Murray
University of Minnesota Press | Amazon | Trailer

Praise for Rifftide:
“Devlin does the rare work of presenting the intersection of musicianship and folklore in a volume that belongs in any serious jazz or African American culture collection.” —Library Journal

“With a pronounced irascible streak to match his heterodox approach to drumming, Papa Jo Jones (1911-85) was an ideal candidate to star in the kind of book that delights jazz fans: the straight-talking, defiantly espousing firsthand record. Anyone interested in authenticity of voice is going to be on the verge of fist-pumping the air throughout, or else exclaiming, ‘You tell it like it is, baby,’ as if partaking in a call-and-response with the book.” —New York Times Book Review

“With Rifftide, Devlin, Murray, Jones and Schaap have given us a wonderful resource for charting an underexplored section of the cultural map.” –Walton Muyumba, Oxford American

“Albert Murray has helped keep the incomparable Jo Jones alive through the voice of Count Basie in Good Morning Blues and fictionally inThe Magic Keys, but in Rifftide, thanks to the persistence of editor Paul Devlin, we get to hear Jo himself in all his dynamic, adrenalized, anecdotal, no-bull glory—riffing with words as heartily as he did on the hi-hat.” —Gary Giddins, author of Warning Shadows and Jazz

“Rifftide is a gem of a book about one of the forgotten founding fathers of Swing. Jo Jones was more than a jazz genius—he was also one of the great characters and chroniclers of American life during the Swing Era. Based on extensive oral interviews and years of painstaking research, Rifftide is a terrific source not only for students of jazz, but also American history, African-American studies, linguistics, and sociology.” —Debby Applegate, author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

“Papa Jo Jones is Brer Rabbit with a drum kit and opposable thumbs. In his own spellbinding voice, musical history and philosophy come alive on the page.” —Mat Johnson, author of Pym

“Magique.”  —Bulletin du HCF (France)

Peer-reviewed Articles and Chapter

“Jazz Autobiography and the Cold War.” Popular Music and Society 38.2 (Spring 2015).

“Ann Petry, Ralph Ellison, and Two Representations of Live Jazz Performance.” American Studies with American Studies International 54.3 (Fall 2015).

“Albert Murray and Visual Art,” in Barbara Baker (ed.), Albert Murray and the Aesthetic Imagination of a Nation. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010.


Cultural Journalism and Consulting

I have published more than 100 pieces. My work has appeared in Slate, The Root, The Daily Beast, The New York Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, Popular Mechanics, Antioch Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Bomb, Capital New York, The Nation, and other publications.

I have been a consultant for Jazz at Lincoln Center, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and the American Writers Museum in Chicago. I co-curated the exhibition “Ralph Ellison: A Man and His Records” at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, which ran from March-September 2014. Separately, I was the exhibition’s literary consultant. I worked closely with D.C. Moore Galley on the exhibition of Albert Murray’s art collection (January-February 2012) and wrote the wall text for the exhibition.


Academic Credentials

Complete c.v. available upon request.

Ph.D. in English: Stony Brook University, 2014. Dissertation: “The Evasion of Segregation in African American Modernist Fiction: Sound and Subjectivity in the Work of Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Albert Murray, and Percival Everett.” Dissertation Advisor: Rowan Ricardo Phillips

M.A. in English: St. John’s University, 2004. Thesis: “The Impossible Sublime: Wittgenstein, Hemingway, Emerson.”

B.A. in English with a minor in History: St. John’s University, 2002


Teaching Snapshot

United States Merchant Marine Academy: 29 sections, 2015-present

St. John’s University: 47 sections as an adjunct, 2004-17

Stony Brook University: 7 sections as a graduate student, 2007-10 and 2013.


Selected Presentations

-English Alumni Lecture, University of Alabama-Birmingham, invited lecture sponsored by John S. Jemison Visiting Professorship: 2012

-numerous speaking appearances and programs organized at Jazz at Lincoln Center (2010-14) and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (2009-2016)

-invited talk and reading (with accompaniment by David Murray Quintet) at Albert Murray tribute, Hutchins Center, Harvard University: 2017

-talk at Virginia Festival of the Book, University of Virginia: 2017

-organized event and read at Albert Murray tribute, 92nd St. Y: 2016

-invited talk at Albert Murray tribute, Schomburg Center: 2014

-invited talks at Tuskegee University: 2010, 2013

-invited talks at Mobile Public Library: 2010, 2017

-invited talk to senior seminar, University of South Alabama: 2013

-invited talk to seminar, CUNY Graduate Center: 2013

-invited talk at Port Washington Public Library: 2012

-papers at MLA convention: 2006, 2007, 2016 (I organized and presided over the 2016 panel)

-papers at Northeast MLA convention: 2016, 2017

-paper at MELUS: 2014

-paper at Columbia University Graduate Conference: 2008

-paper at August Wilson Conference, University of Kentucky: 2008

-paper at Albert Murray Symposium, Auburn University: 2008

-paper at Albert Murray Symposium, Columbia University: 2016

-paper on roundtable at The International Ralph Ellison Symposium, University of Oxford: 2017


Works In Progress

  • scholarly study of Ralph Ellison’s representations of auditory phenomena
  • volume of my selected essays
  • volume II of Albert Murray’s works (novels and poems) for Library of America, forthcoming in January 2018
  • Albert Murray bibliography

Review Copies

Paul Devlin
Humanities/Fitch Hall
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
300 Steamboat Road
Kings Point, NY 11024


Disclaimer: Paul Devlin’s communications and editorial decisions are not on behalf of the United States Government.

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