James Collins

Assistant Professor of Classics

Contact Information
E-mail: jhcollin@college.usc.edu
Phone: (213) 740-3685
Office: THH 256N

Philosophical Stages


  • B.A. Classics, Philosophy, Plan II, University of Texas at Austin, 12/2000
  • Ph.D. Classics and Ancient Philosophy, Stanford University, 8/2007

  • Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

    • Lecturer, University of Southern California, 08/2007-05/2008  

    Description of Research

    Summary Statement of Research Interests
    Ancient Philosophy, Greek Literature, Cultural History
    Detailed Statement of Research Interests
    James Henderson Collins specializes in ancient philosophy, Greek literature, cultural history, and performance theory. His research focuses on the cultural and discursive practices of philosophical disciplines in ancient Greek and Roman culture. His publications include articles on prompts for participation in early philosophical texts (Brill 2011), the ethics of tragic choral dance and a co-edited special volume on new approaches to Greek drama (Ramus 2013, with R. Rader), Socrates in the marketplace (CHS Bulletin 2013), and a book on the literary strategies that the first professional philosophers in Athens used to advertise their respective disciplines (Oxford University Press 2015). His current book project develops the notion of philosophy as a political and social pursuit among other competing and similarly commodified lifestyles. This project aims at determining the pragmatics of a ‘marketplace of ideas’ (i.e., the economy, cohesion, identity, and mobility of intellectual communities) in the larger marketplace of a variety of political and social landscapes. Professor Collins also co-founded the interdisciplinary Philosophical Stages program while completing his PhD at Stanford University. Philosophical Stages develops strategies for introducing people of all walks and ages to philosophy as an active and live discipline through dramatic and rhetorical performance. The program has moved in new directions at USC through partnerships with the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, the Joint Educational Project, and the Thematic Option honors program. Undergraduates in his Performing Wisdom seminar combine close readings of Presocratics, Sophists, Plato, and Stoics with a weekly drama lab which uses the techniques of Stanislavski, Mamet, Johnstone, and Boal to explore philosophical characters and everyday virtues. Participants also conduct and record Socratic dialogues of their own outside the classroom. Professor Collins has helped his students over the years to write, direct, and perform multiple adaptations of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Sophocles’ Antigone, and Aristophanes’ Birds, and Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus and Euripides’ Hippolytus. Professor Collins has taught a variety of other courses at USC including undergraduate courses in Ancient Epic, Ancient Science, and Classical Mythology, major courses on Greek and Latin poetry and prose, graduate surveys of Latin and Greek literature, and graduate seminars on the pragmatics of cultural production, philosophical protreptic, and philosophy in the broader marketplace. He has also offered courses on performance, literature, and philosophy for the Thematic Option program. He served for several years as the undergraduate adviser for Classics. Professor Collins was a 2013-14 Harvard Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.


    • Collins II, J. H. (2015). Exhortations to Philosophy: The Protreptics of Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    • Collins II, James Henderson and Richard Rader (Ed.). (2013). The Enigmatic Context: Approaches to Greek Drama. (Vol. 42, Ramus: Critical Studies in Greek and Roman Literature - Cambridge Journals Online.

    Book Chapter
    • Collins II, J. H. (2011). Prompts for Participation in Early Philosophical Texts. Orality, Literacy and Performance in the Ancient W E.J. Brill.

    Journal Article
    • Collins II, J. H. (2013). Socrates in the Marketplace. Center for Hellenic Studies Research Bulletin. Vol. 2 (1)
    • Collins II, J. H. (2013). Dancing the Virtues, Becoming Virtuous: Procedural Memory and Ethical Presence. Ramus: Critical Studies in Greek and Roman Literature - Cambridge Journals Online. Vol. 42, pp. 183-206.

    New Courses Developed

    • Greek and Latin at all levels, Classics, undergraduate and graduate courses including Greek and Latin graduate surveys, 2007-2015  
    • Philosophy in the Marketplace, Classics, graduate seminar, Fall 2014   
    • Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World, Classics, undergraduate seminar, Spring 2014   
    • Ancient Drama, Classics, undergraduate seminar with performance module, Fall 2011   
    • Philosophy and Literature, Thematic Option, undergraduate seminar, Fall 2010   
    • Ancient Science, Classics, undergraduate seminar, Spring 2010   
    • Pragmatics of Cultural Production, Classics, graduate seminar, Spring 2010   
    • Performing Wisdom, Thematic Option, Fundamental to Greek and Roman philosophy is the concept of the ‘art of living’ which maintains that living a good life is at heart a public performance, and thus entails particular modes of action, engagement, and self-presentation and stylization. Philosophical theory and practice, thoughts and deeds together contribute to the philosophical art of constructing, performing, and becoming the right sort of character. In addition to reading philosophy with an eye to how the ancients variously embodied and performed their wisdom, this course explores techniques drawn from contemporary performance theory in highly performative, experimental, and collaborative learning environments in order to develop an appreciation for this particular sort of philosophical activity. Performing Wisdom aims primarily at developing this craft for the participants’ own efforts at self-examination and presentation., Spring 2008   

    Honors and Awards

    • Residential Fellow at Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies, 2013-2014   

  • Department of Classics
  • University of Southern California
  • THH 256
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0352