Research Expertise and Interest
Classical Studies, classical reception studies, philosophy, critical theory, aesthetics, Nietzsche, Auerbach, Jewish intellectual thought
James Porter is Irving Stone Professor in Literature and Distinguished Professor in Rhetoric. His 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). A further strand is Jewish literary and critical thought in authors from Spinoza to Freud, Adorno, and Arendt. His most recent book is Homer: The Very Idea (University of Chicago Press, 2021; pbk. 2023), which captures some of his interest in classical reception studies. He is co-editor of the preeminent series in this field, "Classical Presences" (Oxford University Press, 2005– ). Member of the collective that published Postclassicisms (Chicago University Press, 2019). All of these topics spill over into his teaching, and many of them have begun their life there, because he finds that the classroom is one of the most productive places you can ever be.
Edited volumes: Constructions of the Classical Body (University of Michigan Press, 1999); Before Subjectivity? Lacan and the Classics, ed. James I. Porter and Mark Buchan, Helios, vol. 31, no. 1-2 (2004); Classical Pasts: The Classical Traditions of Greece and Rome, (Princeton University Press, 2006); Time, History and Literature: Selected Essays of Erich Auerbach (Princeton 2013; pbk. 2016); Nietzsche and Literary Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2023); Rachel Bespaloff, Existence, Crisis, and Faith: Selected Essays and Letters by Rachel Bespaloff (forthcoming, Princeton University Press); Cambridge Critical Guide to Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy,” co-edited with Michael Forster (Cambridge University Press).
Current book projects: The Cynics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press); Ecologies of Self, Nature, and Community: From Heraclitus to the Roman Stoics; Philology in Exile: Spinoza to the Present (a study of Jewish scholars working in and on philology at its margins); Thinking Through Homer (Cambridge University Press). He will also be rounding out two trilogies with two further titles, Literary Aesthetics After Aristotle and The Seductions of Metaphysics: Nietzsche’s Final Philosophy. And, down the road, a book-essay on philosophies of life in antiquity and modernity.
Most recent articles and chapters:
“Foucault, Kant, and Antiquity,” forthcoming, Representations, 2024
“The Genesis of Rachel Bespaloff’s De l’Iliade,” in V. Lev Kenan and P. Rosenmeyer, ed., Classics Transformed in Jewish, Israeli, and Palestinian Receptions (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2024)
"Was ist ‘jüdische Philologie’?,” in Der Leib der Zeit — Zur Aktualität Erich Auerbachs, ed. Anja Lemke (2023)
“The Cynics with and without Foucault,” Arethusa, special issue on Foucault, ed. Simon Goldhill 55, no. 3 (2024)
“How Much (or Little) Does figura Figure in Auerbach’s Oeuvre?,” special French journal issue ed. by Julia Casteigt, forthcoming
“Ancient Criticism as Metacriticism,” in The Oxford Handbook on Ancient Literary Theory and Criticism, ed. J. Connolly and N. Worman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2024)
“The Sublime,” Oxford Classical Dictionary (2024)
"Erich Auerbach's Theory of the Sublime" in The Sublime in the Ancient World, ed. P. Glauthier and J. Ulrich (Cambridge University Press)
Introduction to a reissue of Rachel Bespaloff’s On the Iliad (Princeton University Press)