James Porter

James Porter

Title
Distinguished Professor
Department
Dept of Ancient Greek & Roman Studies
Dept of Rhetoric
Research Expertise and Interest
Classical Studies, classical reception studies, philosophy, critical theory, aesthetics, Nietzsche, Auerbach, Jewish intellectual thought
Research Description

James Porter is the Irving G. Stone Professor in Literature, and Chair in the Department of Rhetoric (2022–25).  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; pb 2020), which received the C. J. Goodwin Award of Merit from The Society for Classical Studies (2017). 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 has 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 in authors 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, 2023 or 2024); Existence, Tragedy, and Faith: Selected Essays and Letters by Rachel Bespaloff (under contract with Princeton University Press);  a book on philosophical reflections about ecologies of self and world in Greek and Roman philosophy (Being Beyond the Self: Heraclitus to the Stoics); a study of Jewish scholars working in and on philology at its margins (Philology in Exile: Spinoza to the Present; University of Chicago Press); a continuation of his studies on Homer's reception: Thinking Through Homer (Cambridge University Press); an introduction to a reissue of Rachel Bespaloff’s On the Iliad (Princeton University Press); an edition of Philodemus’ On Poems, Bk. 5 (under contract with Oxford University Press); and, down the road, a book-essay on the philosophy of life in antiquity and modernity. 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. 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.

In the News

April 12, 2019

Five Berkeleyans among 2019 Guggenheim winners

Five UC Berkeley professors are among this year’s 168 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellows. The prestigious fellowships recognize scholars with impressive achievements who also show promise in fields ranging from the natural sciences to the creative arts.

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In the News

April 12, 2019

Five Berkeleyans among 2019 Guggenheim winners

Five UC Berkeley professors are among this year’s 168 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellows. The prestigious fellowships recognize scholars with impressive achievements who also show promise in fields ranging from the natural sciences to the creative arts.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
April 17, 2019
Five Berkeley professors have won John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowships this year. The honor recognizes highly accomplished scholars who show exceptional promise in the creative arts and humanities. The Berkeley honorees are associate history professor Brian DeLay for U.S. history; history professor James Vernon for European and Latin American history; art history professor Julia Bryan-Wilson for fine arts research; English and journalism professor Mark Danner for general nonfiction; and literature, rhetoric and classics professor James Porter for classics. For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News. Another story on this topic appeared in Art & Education.
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