James I. Porter

Professor, Department Chair, The Irving Stone Chair in Literature, Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Classics, Program in Critical Theory


Latest Research

I began teaching at the University of Michigan in Classics and Comparative Literature (1986-2007), and then at UC Irvine, Classics and Comparative Literature (2007-2015), where I was Director of Critical Theory from 2014-2015. I have held visiting professorships at Princeton and Bristol University (UK) and have also taught at UCLA. I am co-editor of “Classical Presences,” a book series in Classical Reception published by Oxford University Press (2005-present), and am a member of The Postclassicisms Collective that held workshops from 2011-2016. The final workshop, “Swarms, Collectivities, Intensities, Networks, and Nodes (SCINN),” was held at Berkeley in 2016. We’ve since collaboratively produced Postclassicisms (Chicago University Press, 2019). In 2019 I received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for 2019-20 and in May 2019 I delivered the J. H. Gray Lectures at Cambridge University on the topic of “Thinking Through Homer.” 

My teaching and research has followed a few different trajectories. One is a study of Nietzsche’s thought, early and late (Nietzsche and the Philology of the Future and The Invention of Dionysus: An Essay on ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ (both Stanford University Press, 2000). Another is a study of models of aesthetic sensation, perception, and experience in ancient Greece and Rome, which I explored in The Origins of Aesthetic Thought in Ancient Greece: Matter, Sensation, and Experience (Cambridge University Press, 2010; pbk. 2016). A continuation of this inquiry is The Sublime in Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, 2016; pbk. 2020), which received the C. J. Goodwin Award of Merit from The Society for Classical Studies (2017). My most recent book is Homer: The Very Idea  (University of Chicago Press, 2021; pbk. 2023), which captures some of my interest in classical reception studies. I have been co-editing a series called “Classical Presences” with Oxford University Press since 2005, the goal of which is precisely to promote this agenda. A further strand is Jewish literary and critical thought from Spinoza to Freud to Erich Auerbach (Time, History and Literature: Selected Essays of Erich Auerbach; Princeton 2013; pbk. 2016) and Rachel Bespaloff.

Ongoing and future projects include a collection of essays titled Nietzsche and Literary Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2024); Existence, Tragedy, and Faith: Selected Essays and Letters by Rachel Bespaloff, ed. JIP, trans. Natasha Lehrer (in progress, Princeton University Press); The Cynics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press); The Birth of Tragedy: A Critical Guide, ed. JIP and Michael Forster (Cambridge University Press); Being beyond the Self: Nature and Community from Heraclitus to the Roman Stoics; a study of Jewish scholars working in and on philology at its margins and in oppressed circumstances (Philology in Exile: Spinoza to the Present); a continuation of my studies on Homer’s reception: Thinking Through Homer; an introduction to a reissue of Rachel Bespaloff’s On the Iliad (Princeton University Press); an edition of Philodemus’ On Poems, Bk. 5 (Oxford University Press); and, down the road, a book-essay on the philosophies of life in antiquity and modernity. I will also be rounding out two trilogies with two further titles, Literary Aesthetics After Aristotle (Cambridge University Press) and The Seductions of Metaphysics: Nietzsche’s Final Philosophy. All of these topics spill over into my teaching, and many of them have begun their life there, because I find that the classroom is one of the most productive places you can ever be.

Education: BA Swathmore College
MA, PhD (Comparative Literature), UC Berkeley

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Research interests: 

Greek and Roman literature and philosophy | Modern philosophy (materialism, aesthetics, ethics, subjectivity; Kant, Nietzsche, Foucault, Critical Theory) | Interactions between politics, culture, and critique | History and theory of classicism and postclassicism



354B Dwinelle, Wednesdays, 2:15-4:15pm


James I. Porter
Edited Volume, 2024
James I. Porter
Edited Volume, 2024
James I. Porter
Journal Article, 2024
James I. Porter
Journal Article, 2023
James I. Porter
Book, 2021
The Postclassicisms Collective; James I. Porter
Book, 2019
James I. Porter
Book, 2016
James I. Porter
Book, 2000
James I. Porter
Edited Volume, 1999