Skip to main content

Heather James

Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-3740
Office: THH 417



B.A. English, Latin, University of California
M.A. Latin Literature, University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D. Comparative Literature, English Renaissance, University of California, Berkeley

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Tenure Track Appointments

Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California, 06/01/1998-  
Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California, 08/01/1995-06/01/1998  
Assistant Professor, Yale University, 06/01/1991-06/01/1995  

Visiting and Temporary Appointments

Visiting Associate Professor, Hickel Endowed Chair, University of California, San Diego, Spring 2012   
Associate Professor, The Bread Loaf School of English , 2004-2007  
Visiting Associate Professor, Claremont Graduate University, Spring 2004   

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Heather James' research focuses on literature and culture of the English Renaissance. Her literary interests also include Latin poetry, Italian and French literature, genre studies (especially drama, lyric, epic, and pastoral), and the culture of classical transmission. Long-standing interests include empire studies, political theory and political philosophy, book history, women writers, gender studies, trauma theory, and narrative theory. Newer interests include the history and theory of education; the use of maxims, commonplaces, and gnomic pointing; classical recovery and cultural extinction; animal studies; and the place of Renaissance art and drama — especially Shakespeare — in the art of the American West.

Research Keywords

English Renaissance literature, Latin literature, Italian literature, comparative literature, classical transmission, and translation. Major authors, including William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and John Milton. Women writers, including Marguerite de Navarre, Isabella Whitney, Lady Mary Wroth, Jane Weston, and Anne Wharton. Renaissance English drama; genre and genre theory (especially drama, epic, pastoral, elegy, and satire). Political theory and political philosophy, trauma theory, narrative studies, gender studies, animal studies.

Conferences and Other Presentations

Conference Presentations

"Shakespeare's Italian loves: Boccaccio vs. Petrarch", A Boccaccian Renaissance, a Joint UC-Berkeley and Stanford University Conference, Talk/Oral Presentation, UC Berkeley and Stanford, Albert R. Ascoli and David Lummis, Invited, 10/26/2013-  
"The Graveyard and the Frontier: Hamlet among the Buffaloes", Western Literature Association, Talk/Oral Presentation, Berkeley, 10/12/2013-  
"The Ovidian Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Boy Actors: Q2 Juliet ", Shakespeare Association of America, Talk/Oral Presentation, Vancouver, BC, 04/04/2015  
"A Double Stranger to England: George Sandys’ Ovid, 1625-1642", Early Modern Translation: Theory, History, Practice, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Folger Shakespeare Library, Invited, 03/04/2011  
"Bison Hamlet", The Next English Renaissance, Lecture/Seminar, Paper, University of Colorado-Boulder, Invited, 09/25/2010  
"Foreword: Politics and Plays", Representing Politics on Shakespeare’s Stage, Talk/Oral Presentation, Huntington Library, Huntington Library, Invited, 09/25/2009-09/26/2009  
"Aromatherapy: Political Discontent in Spenser’s Flowerbeds", Renaissance Society of America, Lecture/Seminar, Paper, Los Angeles at the Getty Center, Invited, 03/20/2009  
"Uneasy Lies", Shakespeare and Politics, Roundtable/Panel, L.A. Shakespeare Festival, L.A. Shakespeare Festival, Invited, 10/11/2008  
"Arrows from God’s Quiver: the Political Culture of Sententiae in Elizabethan Drama", 1601: The Revolt of the Earl of Essex, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Princeton University, Department of History, Invited, 05/18/2007-05/19/2007  
"Sentencing Ovid", Shakespeare Association of America, Plenary Session, Paper, San Diego, SAA, Invited, 04/06/2007  

Other Presentations

"The Metamorphoses and the Liberty of Speech in Early Modern England", Metamorphoses: A Critical Reappraisal, The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, Stockholm, Sweden, 05/26/2016  
"Between Worlds: Ovid in Colonial America and Caroline England", Invited speaker, Texas Tech, Departments of Classics and English, Lubbock, TX, 04/13/2012  
"Hamlet and Species Extinction", Northwestern Early Modern Colloquium, Northwestern Early Modern Colloquium, Northwestern University, 11/20/2011  
"Othello, Plutarch, Foucault", Invited lecture, Claremont Graduate University, CGU, 10/01/2007  
"Shakespeare and the Liberty of Speech", Distinguished Guest Lecturer , Department of English , Reed College, 04/19/2007  
"What’s Love Got to Do With It?: Paradise Lost, Revolutionary Thought, and the Renaissance Ovid", Distinguished Guest Lecturer , Department of English, Reed College, 04/19/2007  
"Spenser and the Gods", Invited lecture, Department of English, St Andrews, 04/13/2005  



James, H. (2005). Norton Anthology of Western Literature, 8th Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
James, H. (2001). Norton Anthology of World Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
James, H. (1997). Shakespeare's Troy: Drama, Politics, and the Translation of Empire. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. One of twenty-four scholarly books on "Medieval & Renaissance" literature selected for Choice’s Outstanding Academic Titles, 1998-2002..

Book Chapter

James, H. (2016). Time, Verisimilitude, and the Counter-Classical Ovid. Shakespeare In Our Time: the SAA 2016
James, H. (2014). Ben Jonson's Light Reading. Blackwell Handbook to the Reception of Ovid Blackwell.
James, H. (2013). The First English Printed Commonplace Books and the Rise of the Common Reader. Forms of Writing pp. 34 pages. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
James, H. (2012). Coming of Age in Shakespeare. Coming of Age pp. 24. Salem Press.
James, H. (2010). Shakespeare’s Classical Plays, in the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare, eds. Margreta de Grazia and Stanley Wells. pp. 153-167. Cambridge University Press.
James, H. (2009). Coriolanus: A Modern Perspective. pp. 297-308. Folger Shakespeare Edition.
James, H. (2009). Ovid in Renaissance English Literature. pp. 423-41. Blackwell Companion to Ovid, ed. Peter E. Knox.
James, H. (2007). Shakespeare and Classicism. pp. p. 202-220. Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry, ed. Patrick Cheney.
James, H. (2004). "Shakespeare's Learned Heroines in Ovid's Schoolroom," 2004. Cambridge University Press.
James, H. (1996). The Politics of Display and the Anamorphic Subjects of Antony and Cleopatra. Prentice-Hall: Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s Late Tragedies, ed. Susanne Wofford.
James, H. (1991). Cultural Disintegration in Titus Andronicus: Mutilating Titus, Vergil and Rome (reprint). Themes In Drama (Vol. NA). Cambridge University Press.

Journal Article

James, H. (2015). The Problem of Poetry in The Faerie Queene, Book V. The Spenser Review. Vol. 45 (1)
James, H. (2014). Flower Power. The Spenser Review. Vol. 44 (2), pp. 5000 words.
James, H. (2008). Shakespeare, the Classics, and the Forms of Authorship. Shakespeare Studies. Vol. 36, pp. 80-89.
James, H. (2006). The Poet's Toys: Christopher Marlowe and the Liberties of Erotic Elegy. Modern Language Quarterly. Vol. 67:1, pp. 103-127.
James, H. (2003). Ovid and the Question of Politics in Early Modern England. English Literary History. Vol. vol. 70, pp. pp. 343-73..
James, H. (2003). Royal Jokes and Sovereign Mystery in Castiglione's Il Cortegiano and Marguerite de Navarre's Heptaméron. Modern Language Quarterly. Vol. vol. 64.4, pp. pp. 399-425.
James, H. (2001). Dido’s Ear: Tragedy and the Politics of Response. Shakespeare Quarterly/Folger Shakespeare Library. Vol. vol. 52.3, pp. pp.360-82.
James, H. (1993). Milton's Eve, Romance, and Ovidian Poetics. Comparative Literature/American Literature Association. Vol. vol. 45, pp. pp. 121-45.

New Courses Developed

The Poetry of Exile: Ovid in Early Modern England (and Beyond), English, Spring 2011   
The Liberty of Speech in Shakespeare’s England, English, Spring 2009   
Metamorphosis from Ovid to Modernity, General Education, Spring 2008   
Ovid in Seventeenth-Century England, English, Students spent the first third of the semester studying Ovid's Metamorphoses, in modern translation and in the translations by Golding and Sandys. The students then worked in pairs on independent research on the literary and cultural uses of a single mythological figure from Ovid's poem (e.g., Daphne, Medusa, Medea, Orpheus, etc.). In conference with me, and with the aid of EEBO, they chose new texts for the class to read and took the initiative in class discussion. Their choice of texts (hard!) ranged from Greene, Gascoigne, and Spenser to Knevet, Oldham, and Hobbes., Spring 2007   

Honors and Awards

USC Center for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty Fellow, 1/2009-12/2010  
Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant, 2007-2008   
American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship Recipient, 2005-2006  
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Recipient, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2005-2006  
H.P. Kraus Fellowship at the Beinecke Library, 2005  
Huntington Library Research Fellowship Recipient, 2004  
USC Center for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty Fellow, 2003-2004   
USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, Award for Excellence in Teaching in General Education, 2001  
USC Innovative Teaching Award, Bringing Renaissance Drama to General Education, 2000  
USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, Arnold L. and Lois S. Graves Prize for Teaching in the Humanities, 2000  
Sarai Ribicoff Award for Undergraduate Teaching at Yale College, 1993-1994   

Service to the University


Chair, President of the Faculty Council of the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, 2000-2001   

Other Service to the University

The Renaissance Literature Seminar, supported by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. Invited speakers: William Sherman, Jeff Dolven, Heather James, Jeffrey Masten, Adam Zucker, 2011-2012   
The Renaissance Literature Seminar, supported by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. Invited speakers: Emily Bartels, Peter Stallybrass, Laurie Shannon, David Scott Kastan , 2010-2011   
The Renaissance Literature Seminar, supported by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. "Word and Image." Invited speakers: Margaret Ferguson, Harry Berger, Patricia Fumerton, Ann Rosalind Jones, Carla Mazzio, 2009-2010   
The Renaissance Literature Seminar, supported by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. "Literature Beyond Words." Invited speakers: Gail Kern Paster, Anston Bosman, Joe Loewenstein, Bruce Smith, Heidi Brayman Hackel, 2008-2009   
The Renaissance Literature Seminar, supported by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. "Legacies, Connections, and Transmissions." Invited speakers: Claire McEachern, Nigel Smith, Alan Stewart, Susanne Wofford, 2007-2008   
The Renaissance Literature Seminar, supported by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. "Literary Theory in the 21st Century." Invited speakers: Julia Lupton, Dympna Callaghan, Chris Warley, Lowell Gallagher, Richard Halpern, 2006-2007   
Introduced and organized lecture by Geoffrey Hartman, "The Holocaust, History-Writing, and Fiction: Methodological Reflections." Sponsored by the Departments of English and Comparative Literature and the Shoah Foundation , 01/25/2007  

Service to the Profession

Conferences Organized

Invited Organizer and Co-Chair with A. Braunmuller, Representing Politics on Shakespeare’s Stage , Huntington Library, A major conference on the representation of politics on the Elizabethan and Stuart stage. Invited speakers include Oliver Arnold, Karen Britland, Martin Butler, Jean Howard, Lorna Hutson, András Kiséry, Peter Lake, Michael Neill, Stephen Orgel, Emma Smith, and Adam Zucker., 09/25/2009-09/26/2009  

Editorships and Editorial Boards

Editorial Board, Marlowe Studies: An Annual, 03/2010-  
Editorial Board, Shakespeare Quarterly, 04/2008-  

Professional Offices

President, Shakespeare Association of America, 03/2016-03/2017  
Board of Trustees, Shakespeare Association of America, 04/2008-04/2012  
Chair and member, Executive Board of the Comparative Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Literature Division of the Modern Language Association, 2005-2009, 2005-2009  
Executive Board, International Spenser Society, 2004-2007  
Faculty may update their profile by visiting