James I. Porter

The Irving Stone Chair in Literature

Head Graduate Advisor

Rhetoric and Classics
Program in Critical Theory

BA Swarthmore College
MA, PhD (Comparative Literature), UC Berkeley

Image of James Porter


354B Dwinelle

T & Th: 3:40–4:40pm and by appointment. Office hours sign-up here.
Instructions for Google appointments here. (Make sure your calendar is set to PST/PDT.)

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

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 a book entitled 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). A continuation of this inquiry is The Sublime in Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, 2016), which received the C. J. Goodwin Award of Merit from The Society for Classical Studies (2017). My most recent book is called Homer: The Very Idea  (University of Chicago Press, 2021). Future and ongoing projects include “Thinking Through Homer” (Cambridge University Press); a book-essay on the problem of life from Lucretius to Freud; a book tentatively called “Limits of the Self in Greek and Roman Philosophy”; an edition of Philodemus’ “On Poems” (Bk. 5); and, down the road, “Philology in Exile: Spinoza to Arendt.” I will also be rounding out two trilogies, on ancient aesthetics and on Nietzsche, with two further titles, “Literary Aesthetics After Aristotle” 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.

CV here.


“Whose Homer Is It Anyway?: James I. Porter.” Lapham’s Quarterly, (The American Agora Foundation, October 6, 2021).

“P.Mich.Inv. 2754: New Readings of Alcidamas, “On Homer,” forthcoming in Classical Philology.

“Hyperobjects, OOO, and the Eruptive Classics—Field Notes of an Accidental Tourist,” in Posthuman Antiquities, ed. E. Bianchi, S. Brill, and B. Holmes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, early 2019), 190-210.

“Nietzsche’s Untimely Antiquity,” in The New Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche, ed. T. Stern (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, March 2019).

“Epicurus in Nineteenth-Century Germany: Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche,” in The Oxford Handbook of Epicureanism, ed. P. Mitsis (New York: Oxford University Press, late 2019).

“‘On Epic Naïveté: Adorno’s Allegory of Philology,” in S. Gurd and Vincent van Gerven Oei, eds. Pataphilology: An Irreader (Brooklyn: Punctum, 2018), 95-117.

“Materialism,” Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2018.

“Old Testament Realism in the Writings of Erich Auerbach,” in Jews and the Ends of Theory, ed. S. Ginsburg and J. Boyarin (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018), 187-224.

“Forum on Bonnie Honig’s Antigone, Interrupted,” ed. M. Leonard and J. Porter, International Journal of the Classical Tradition (Fall 2014)

Before Subjectivity? Lacan and the Classics, ed. James I. Porter and Mark Buchan, special issue of Helios (2004)


Council of Graduate Schools / UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award for Best Dissertation in the Humanities from 1986-88 | NEH Fellowship for University Teachers 1988, 2005 | NEH Texts and Translation Grant 1992 | Stanford Humanities Center Fellowship 1995-96 | Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Fellowship 1998 | Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professorship, Institute for Advanced Studies and the Department of Classics & Ancient History, University of Bristol, UK 2003 | Old Dominion Fellow in the Council of the Humanities, Princeton University 2004 | Getty Research Institute 2006 | Director, NEH Summer Seminar 2008 | C. J. Goodwin Award of Merit from The Society for Classical Studies for The Sublime in Antiquity (Cambridge, 2016) 2017