Ramona Naddaff

Associate Professor

Director, The Art of Writing, Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities


PhD (Philosophy), Boston University

Image of Ramona Naddaff


7327 Dwinelle Hall

On Leave for Spring 2023





Research Interests

Ancient Greek Philosophy and Culture
Ancient Greek Rhetoric and Poetics
History of Philosophy
Theory of Literary Censorship
Theory of the Novel

Ramona Naddaff’s research and teaching interests include history of ancient rhetorical theory; philosophy and literature; history of philosophy; theory of the novel; and literary censorship.  In her book, Exiling the Poets: The Production of Censorship in Plato’s Republic, Naddaff offers an interpretation of the ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy.  Underscoring not only the repressive but also the productive dimension of literature censorship, Naddaff brings to light Plato’s fundamental ambivalence about the value of poetic discourse in philosophical and political theory. She has written various essays on Plato, poetry, and art;  the writing and censorship of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary; philosophy of music; and literary censorship.  Naddaff is currently writing a book on Flaubert’s writing philosophy, practices, and collaborations entitled, Never Alone: Flaubert as Author, Editor, and Collaborator and has become increasingly interested in the history of writing and of the book. Never Alone traces the writing, publication, and censorship of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. At the heart of this history is a story of influential collaborations; changing identities and unstable boundaries:  between author and editor, between author, editor and censor, between lawyer, censor and literary critic.

    A co-director and editor of Zone Books, Naddaff is responsible for publishing titles in philosophy, history, anthropology, political theory and history of science. She is co-editor of the three-volume Fragments for a History of the Human Body as well as  the series editor of the multi-volume anthology Postwar French Thought. Naddaff has founded and directed two programs at the Doreen B. Townsend Humanities Center: Course Threads (2008-2010) and  Art of Writing (2015-present.) Naddaff has received numerous awards, including Berkeley Discovery  Departmental Innovation Award; the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association for Excellence in Teaching;  the Humanities Research Fellowship; the Mellon Research and Project Development Grants ; the Mellon Fellowship for Digital Humanites and  the ACLS Junior Faculty Fellowship.  During Spring 2021, was a Poetry and the Senses Fellow at the Art Research Center. Naddaff currently serves on the boards of Libraries without Borders and Inequality Media.

Selected Essays

Foucault’s Use of Socrates,” Symploke, forthcoming 2023.

Reincarnation in the work of Lawrence Abu-Hamden,” commissioned for solo exhibition at Bonniers Konsthall Museum, Stockholm,  2022.

 “The Animal Whose Ear it is,” Unsound/Undead, eds. Steve Goodman, Toby Heys, Eleni Ikoniadou (Cambridge MA:  MIT Press, 2019).

                  “Erudite Curiosity:  On the Censorship of Sade, 1959,” Looking for Law in all the Wrong Places, ed. Marianne Constable and Leti Volpp (New York:  Fordham University Press, 2019).

                   “Hearing Voices:  The Sounds in Socrates’ Head,” in Antiquities beyond Humanism,” eds. Emanuela Bianchi, Sara Brill, and Brooke Holmes (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2019).  

“How did you do it?”  Lettres à Gustave Flaubert, ed. Yves LeClerc (Paris:  Éditions Thierry Marchaisse, 2017). 

“Reckless Speech:  On Plato’s Theory of Lies in the Hippias Minor,” Arethusa, vol. 50, no. 2, Spring 2017, pp. 193-219.

“The Wrong Words in the Wrong Times” with Katherine Wallerstein, in In the Humanities Classroom:  A Set of Case Studies, edited by Caroline Walker Bynum, Common Knowledge, January 2017, vol. 23, no.1, pp. 91-100. 

 “A Privileged Reader:  An Editorial Collaboration Between Gustave Flaubert and Louis Bouilhet,” Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Fall-Winter  2014-2015, vol. 43, pp, 17-33.  

 “No Second Troy” in Logos and Muthos, ed. William Wians  (Albany:  SUNY Press, 2009), pp. 73-98.  

“Forget the ‘For’ and ‘Against’ (For the Moment), ” in Oser construire:  Pour François Jullien (Paris: Empêcheurs de penser en rond, 2007), pp.113-22.

“Confronting the Frugal Editors:  The Revue de Paris’ Madame Bovary,” Law, Culture and the Humanities, 2007, no.3, pp. 266-92. 

 “A Superior Disorder: Writing, Editing, and Censoring Madame Bovary” in Between Terror and Freedom:  Politics, Philosophy and Fiction Speak of Modernity, eds. F. Dolan and S. Goa (Maryland: Lexington Press, 2006), pp.321-360.

 “Myth, Errors and Dreams:  The Return of Plato,” Classical Philology, vol.96, no.2, April 2001, pp. 173-87. 

Short Selected Occasional Pieces

An Editorial Board Finds its Voice,” Washington Spectator September 12, 2017

“On Intellectual Adventures:  Lorraine Daston, 2010-2011 Una’s Lecturer, ” Townsend Center for the Humanities Newsletter, April/May 2011, pp. 3-4.

“Series Preface” in French PhilosophyProblems, Concepts, Inventions, eds. Etienne Balibar and John Rachjman (New York:  The New Press, 2011), pp. ix-x.

“A Poetic Moment,” Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, June 16, 2007.

Le social science Translation Project,” Agenda de la pensée contemporaine, Autumn 2007, no. 8, pp. 151-160. 

“Zone de traduction, Zone de guerre,” Agenda de la pensée contemporaine, Autumn 2006, no. 5, pp. 63-72.

“Madonna:  An American Life,” greekworks.com, March 2004, <http://www.greekworks.com/madonna_an_american_life>.

“An American in Paris,” greekworks.com, April 2003, <http://www.greekworks. com/an_american_in_paris>. 

 “No Second Troy:  Imagining Helen in Greek Antiquity,” Greekworks.com, January 15, February 3 and February 17, 2003, <http://www.greekworks.com/no_second_troy_imagining_helen_in_greek_antiquity>.


Artistic Projects

“Ancient Greece and Democracy,” permanent fresco with original texts from ancient Greek poets and philosophers in Lisbon, Portugal Metro Station, in collaboration with Françoise Schein, January 1995.

“It was a Deception:  It Felt Like Home,” sculptural installation on multiculturalism and immigration at The New Museum, New York, in collaboration with Lorna Simpson, Fall 1993.

From Paris to Paris” in Les Paris/Paris USA, ed. Françoise Schein (Paris:  Tête d’Affiche, 1991); fifteen- page prose poem on travel through the American cities named “Paris.”


2012, Humanities Research Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, for book project, A Writers’ Trials.

2011, Phi Beta Kappa, Northern California Association, Excellence in Teaching Award.

Spring 2010 Co-Convener, Strategic Working Group, “Old Things: Classical Studies and Contemporary Humanities,” Doreen B. Townsend Humanities Center, University of California, Berkeley.

Fall 2007-Fall 2011 Mellon Research Grant. University of California, Berkeley.

2004-2005 ACLS/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Junior Faculty Fellow.

Fall 2003-2007 Faculty Research Grant, Research Assistant Grant. University of California, Berkeley.

Spring 2003 CNRS-Berkeley Exchange Fellowship, two-month research trip in Paris France for study of the censorship trial of Madame Bovary.

Member of the Equipe Flaubert, Institut des textes et manuscrits modernes at the C.N.R.S. in Paris.

Fall 2002 Research Grant, Hellman Family Fund, for research on censorship and the novel.

2001 Visiting Scholar, The Aspen Institute.



 “Foucault’s Uses of Socrates,” Classics Department, University of California, Berkeley, November 12, 2021.

“On editing intelligently,” Los Angeles Review of Books Publishing Program, July 2021.

“How did Plato Get into Berkeley?”, Inaugural Lecture for Arts and Humanities, University of California, Berkeley, August 2019.

“On Publishing A Book: Stages and Processes,” Los Angeles Review of Books Publishing Program, July 6, 2019.

Moderator and Interview, “Michael Lewis on the Art of Writing,” April , 2019

Organizer and Moderator, Manuscript Workshop for Deborah Nolan textbook, Statistics, Doreen B. Townsend Humanities Center, University of California, Berkeley, February 3-5, 2019.

Participant, Musical Pasts, Yale University, Oct. 28-30, 2018.

Interview with author Patricia Williams, “When not to Write like a Lawyer:  The Art of Genre Transgression,” The Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, September 14, 2018.

“On Publishing a Book,” Los Angeles Review of Books Publishing Program, July 7, 2018.

Organizer and Moderator, A Conversation between Angela Davis and Judith Butler on Inequality,” Oakland Book Festival, May 2018.

Moderator, “On Neo-liberalism: A Conversation between Wendy Brown and Ivan Ascher, New Publications at Zone Books,” May 2018.

Moderator, “A Book is Born:  Author Greil Marcus and Editor Steve Wasserman in Conversation,” The Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, February 22, 2018.

“The Embodied Self in Plato and Flaubert,” The Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities and Institut d’Études Avancées,” Paris, France, July 3-13, 2017. 

Reading, “Letter to Flaubert,” Libraire de Paris, Paris France, June 30, 2017.

“His Voice is Bigger than Him:  On Socrates’s Daimonium,” Haunting Antiquities, conference at Johns Hopkins University, April 15, 2017.

Interview with Robert Reich, Art of Writing Annual Lecture, The Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities,” February 23, 2017. 

Moderator, “Jonathan Franzen on the Art of Writing,”  First Annual Art of Writing Lecture, The Doreen B. Center for the Humanities, April 28, 2016.

Participant, “Music:  Social Relations and Networks,” Musical Pasts, conference at University of California, Berkeley, October 31, 2016

Interview with novelist Sinan Antoon, “Thinking in Two Languages,” a series organized by Ramona Naddaff, Art of Writing,  The Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities,” University of California,Berkeley, September 9, 2016.

Accredited Internship, The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, June 15-30, 2016. 

Moderator, “O Amor Naturale,” panel with Katrina Dodson and Idra Novey, Bay Area Book Festival, June 4, 2016. 

Moderator, “Sex Work is Work,” panel with Elizabeth Alice Clement and Melissa Gira Grant, Oakland Book Festival, May 22, 2016.

Writing Fellow, Skidmore Summer Writing Institute, Fiction Workshop, June 28-July 6, 2015. 

“Hearing Voices:  The Sounds in Socrates’ Head,” Posthumanism and the Classics, conference at New York University,  New York, NY, November 14-15, 2014. 

“Painful Listening:  Plato on the Use of Music Torture,” Reflections on the Study of the Past, conference at The Doreen B. Townsend Humanities Center, University of California, Berkeley, March-15-16, 2012. 

“Plato and the Modern Acoustics of Torture,” for panel “Modern Echoes of Platonic Poetics,” Modern Language Association, January 8, 2012.

 “On War:  Classical Perspectives,” panel organizer and moderator for MLA Discussion Group, “Classical Studies and Modern Literature,” Modern Language Association, January 6, 2012.

“Arguing from Example:  Conflict and Style in the Dissoi Logoi,” Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, Fordham University, New York, October 22, 2011.

Participant, “Living in a Critical Condition,” Workshop in Critical Theory, UC Humanities Research Institute, Beirut, Lebanon, March 25-27, 2011. “On the Temporality of Crisis,” introductory remarks for the panel on temporality (March 26, 2011).  

“Acoustical Pain and Suffering: Music as Torture,” Virreina Centre de la Image, Barcelona, Spain, Musica I Tortura Conference, June 17-18, 2010.

“Interdisciplinary Innovation,” introductory remarks on the Project for Interdisciplinary Innovation, The Doreen B. Townsend Humanities Center, University of California, March 18, 2010. 

“Voluntary Inspiration?  A Reading of the Hippias Minor,” Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, Fordham University, New York, October 17, 2009.

“No Blood, No Foul:  The Uses of Music Torture,” Thinking/Hearing Conference, University of Texas, Austin, October 2-4, 2009.  

“Erudite Curiosity:  Censoring and Canonizing the Trial of Jean-Jacques 

Pauvert,” paper for panel on “Word, Image and Censorship, International Association for Word and Image, Paris, France, July 7,  2008.