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 Collins specializes in ancient philosophy, intellectual and social history, and performance theory. His research has focused on the cultural and discursive practices of philosophical disciplines in ancient Greek and Roman culture. His dissertation examined the development of philosophical schools and the rhetoric that philosophers use to advertise their respective discourses and lifestyles. His current research 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. In the Spring of 2008, the undergraduate participants of Performing Wisdom (CORE 499) combined close readings of Presocratics, Sophists, Plato, and Stoics with a weekly drama lab which used the techniques of Stanislavski, Mamet, Johnstone, and Boal to explore philosophical characters and everyday virtues. Participants also conducted and recorded Socratic dialogues of their own outside the classroom. Past participants of the Philosophical Stages program have also written, directed, and performed multiple adaptations of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Sophocles’ Antigone, and Aristophanes’ Birds.

    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 a graduate seminar on the pragmatics of cultural production. He has also offered courses on performance, literature, and philosophy for the Thematic Option program. He is currently the undergraduate adviser for Classics.

    New Courses Developed

    • Philosophy and Literature, Thematic Option, Fall 2010   
    • Ancient Science, Classics, Spring 2010   
    • Pragmatics of Cultural Production, Classics, 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   

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