Vincent Farenga

Professor of Classics & Comparative Literature

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-0106
Office: THH 256R

Curriculum Vitae


  • B.A. English, Fordham University, 1969
  • M.A. Comparative Literature, Cornell University, 1972
  • Ph.D. Comparative Literature, Cornell University, 1973

  • Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

    • Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California, 01/31/2009-  
    • Assistant Professor of Classics & Comparative Literature, University of Southern California, 09/01/1973-06/30/1979  

    Description of Research

    Summary Statement of Research Interests
    In COMPARATIVE STUDIES Vincent Farenga’s recent research has concentrated on the problem of injustice in modern and contemporary societies around the world. Through his course on Literature and Justice and the Literature and Justice Project, he has gathered under the umbrella term “literature of injustice” works of autobiography, memoir, testimonial, and fiction which foreground the experiences of victims of injustice. These range from slave and neo-slave narratives, Holocaust memoirs and fiction, and Latin American testimonio to trauma fiction and writings that explore the impact on individuals of geopolitical conflicts in regions like the Middle East (e.g., the fiction of Yasmina Khadra [Mohammed Moulessehoul]), Somalia, Sudan, etc.. His current project, a book entitled Authoring Justice, opens a dialogue between literary texts like these and major theories of justice in political philosophy (redistribution, human rights, the theory of recognition, neoliberalism, feminism, deliberative democracy) and moral philosophy. (Among the thinkers whose ideas contribute to this study are Paul Ricoeur, Axel Honneth, Seyla Benhabib, Nancy Fraser, Jürgen Habermas, and Michael Sandel.) The project also foregrounds questions about the ethics of the writer – reader relationship by considering the different ways literary and philosophical works represent the victim’s experience and interpellate the reader’s, in particular through the use of narrative vs. more referential kinds of discourse. In CLASSICAL STUDIES Vincent Farenga has recently examined the nature of citizenship and the individual subject (the self, the soul, the mind) as they relate to questions of justice in the ancient Greek and contemporary western worlds. His 2006 publication, Citizen and Self in Ancient Greece: Individuals Performing Justice and the Law (Cambridge UP) considered how disputes about justice influenced the development of statute law, the jury trial, and individual moral agency and autonomy among the Greeks--and how they still influence contemporary ideologies of citizenship like liberalism, communitarianism, and deliberative democracy. (Thinkers whose ideas had a major impact on this study include Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, John Rawls, Michael Sandel, and G.H. Mead. Among ancient authors and thinkers featured in this work are Homer, Hesiod, Solon, Aeschylus, Antiphon, Thucydides, Plato [Socrates], and Demosthenes.) In addition to citizenship, he studies the practice and theory of democracy and republicanism in the Greek, Roman, and modern worlds as well as the dynamics of leadership in democratic and autocratic regimes in the Greco-Roman and modern worlds. He has a special interest in the history and personality of Alexander the Great.
    Research Keywords
    Justice in literature and political philosophy; theory of recognition; human rights theory; theory and practice of citizenship ancient and modern; the self (soul, mind) in antiquity and modernity; democracy, republicanism, tyranny, and autocracy in antiquity and the modern world; dynamics of leadership; Greek epic, lyric, tragedy, history, philosophy.
    Research Specialties
    Classics: (1) archaic and classical Greek civilization (literature, politics, philosophy); (2) justice in ancient Greece; (3) Athenian democracy; Greek tyranny; (4) the self (soul, mind) in Greek society and thought; (5) citizenship and leadership in ancient Greece and the Roman Republic; (6) Alexander the Great. Comparative Literature: (1) injustice in contemporary societies; (2) models of justice in political philosophy; (3) the theory of recognition; (4) human rights theory; (5) autobiography, memoir, and testimonial literature; (6) theories of the self; (7) theories of citizenship.

    Conferences and Other Presentations

    Conference Presentations
    • ""Citizens: Agents, and Persons: Citizenship in Four Dimensions"", The Philosophy of Paideia in Ancient Greece: What Does It Mean to Us Today?", Keynote Lecture, World Trade Centre (Hangzhou, PRC), Foundation "Towards Citizenship" , Invited, 2012-2013   
    • ""Citizenship in Four Dimensions"", A Round Table Discussion on Current Research in Ancient Greek Democracy, Roundtable/Panel, Department of History, Fudan University (Shanghai, PRC), Department of History, Fudan Univerfsity, Invited, 2012-2013   
    • ""Towards Citizenship: On the Importance of Opening a Citizen's Mind"", "The Philosophy of Paideia in Ancient Greece: What Does It Mean to Us Today?", Talk/Oral Presentation, Zheijang University (Hangzhou, PRC), Foundation "Towards Citizenship" and The Associati, Invited, 2012-2013   
    • ""Authoring Justice: Contemporary Theories of Justice and the Literature of Injustice" ", UCLA Politcal Theory Workshop, Talk/Oral Presentation, UCLA, Department of Political Science, Invited, Spring 2012   
    • ""A Dialogue on Trauma and Its Victims: The Literature of Injustice and Theories of Justice." ", Conference on "Global Justice.", Talk/Oral Presentation, USC, USC Levan Institute for Humanities & Ethics; Unive, 2010-2011   
    • ""Open and Speak Your Mind: Chronotopes, Eikotopias and Discourses of Truth in Classical Greece."", Conference on "Eikos: Probabilities, Hypotheticals and Counterfactuals in Ancient Greek Thought" , Talk/Oral Presentation, University of Toronto, Classics Dept., U Toronto, Invited, 2009-2010   
    • ""Rights, Recognition, and the Self: The Transformation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali."", American Comparative Literature Conference., Talk/Oral Presentation, Harvard University, ACLA, 2008-2009   
    • ""Literature and the Philosophy of Justice: Contemporary Voices and Models"", International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, Talk/Oral Presentation, American University, Paris, Common Ground, 07/20/2007  


    • Farenga, V. Authoring Justice: A Dialogue between Contemporary Theories of Justice and the Literature of Injustice.
    • Farenga, V. (2011). Citizen and Self in Ancient Greece: Individuals Performing Justice and the Law. Hangzhou: Zheijang University Press. web page for China edition of Citizen and Self in Ancient Greece
    • Farenga, V. A. (2006). Citizen and Self in Ancient Greece: Individuals Performing Justice and the Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Book Chapter
    • Farenga, V. (2012). Demokratia and Res Publica. Authority, Equality, and Liberty: The Greek Context. The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Democracies and Hoboken, NJ 07030: Wiley-Blackwell.
    • Farenga, V. (2013). Open and Speak Your Mind: Citizen Agency, The Likelihood of Truth, and Democratic Knowledge in Archaic and Classical Greece. Probabilities, Hypoetheticals, and Counterfactuial Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

    Book Review
    • Farenga, V. (2010). Review: Politics and Society in Ancient Greece (Nicholas F. Jones). The Historian. pp. 982-3.

    Encyclopedia Article
    • Farenga, V. (2010). "Democracy". (Michael Gagarin and Elaine Fantham, Ed.). 395-400. Vol. 2. New York, NY and Oxford: Oxford Enccyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome.

    Journal Article
    • Farenga, V. A. (1998). Narrative and Community in Dark Age Greece: A communicative and Cognitive Approach to Early Greek Citizenship, Arethusa 31, 179-206, 1998. Arethusa/Johns Hopkins UP. Vol. 31 (2), pp. 179 - 206.

    New Courses Developed

    • Literature and Justice, Comparative Literature, Examines writers of fiction and autobiography (ca. 1950-2000) who raise questions of justice in multicultural societies. These writers describe individual and collective experiences of injustice due to racism, ethnicity, economic and gender exploitation, and immigration, in societies such as Cuba, France, Guatemala, India, Senegal and the U.S. We will link these literary voices to recent political philosophers who theorize systematically about how to achieve justice in multicultural societies. Their theories focus on two kinds of injustices: (a) those due to the unequal redistribution of wealth and power and (b) those that deny recognition of worth, dignity and authenticity to subaltern individuals and groups. We will link these claims to multiculturalism and issues like human rights, recognition, personhood, gender, the social contract, and contemporary ideologies like liberalism, communitarianism, deliberative democracy, and feminism., Fall 2007   
    • Fictions of the First Person, Comparative Literature, Revision of existing course. Now explores the writing of first-person fiction and autobiography as paths to understanding how the modern self tries to discover or create its own identity. Using texts from the 18th – 21st centuries, we will see how writers use fictionalized forms of self-presentation, including autobiography, novel, slave narrative, diary, notebooks, meditation, and letters, to lay claim to a unique self with a distinctive life history. Authors include Rousseau, Harriet Jacobs, Dostoevsky, Rimbaud, Rilke, Ellison, Tahar Ben Jelloun, and W.G. Sebald. Also examines philosophical history of the modern self’s search for identity. Key moral goals in this search include achieving autonomy, individuation, authenticity, self-affirmation, self-realization, and "recognition" from others through dialogue, storytelling, self-expression, & epiphany., Fall 2006   
    • Masters of Power: 10 Ancient Lives, ARLT (Gen Ed), Examination of the lives of 5 extraordinary Greeks and 5 extraordinary Romans using ancient bibliography and history and modern retellings of these lives in fiction, film and other arts., Spring 2006   

    Honors and Awards

    • USC General Education Teaching Award, College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, Fall 1999   
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Recipient, Fellowship for College Teachers, 1984-1985   

    Service to the University

    Administrative Appointments
    • Interim Chair, Classics Department, Spring 2013   
    • Chair, Comparative Literature Program, 09/01/1985-08/31/1991  
    • Acting Chair, Comparative Literature Program, 01/01/1984-08/31/1984  
    Other Service to the University
    • Organizer of the USC-UCLA Greek Seminar (March 7, 2011), which was revived after a hiatus of several years. Speakers were K. Raaflaub (Brown), G. Sissa (UCLA), and D. Richter (USC)., 2010-2011   

    Service to the Profession

    Professional Memberships
    • American Philological Association, 01/01/2005-