Heather James

Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Heather James
Email hjames@usc.edu Office THH 417 Office Phone (213) 740-3740


  • M.A. Latin Literature, University of California, Berkeley
  • Ph.D. Comparative Literature, English, University of California, Berkeley
  • B.A. English, Latin, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • 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,
    • Associate Professor, The Bread Loaf School of English , 2004-2007
    • Visiting Associate Professor, Claremont Graduate University,
  • 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.

  • Conference Presentations

    • Pompey and Son , Rector maris: Sextus Pompeius und das MeerTalk/Oral Presentation, Exzellenzcluster of Freie Universität Berlin, Invited, Berlin, Germany, Spring 2017
    • The Trials of Ovid: Ben Jonson’s Poetaster, or the Arraignment , Ben Jonson: 1616-2016Talk/Oral Presentation, Huntington Library, Invited, Huntington Library, San Marino, Fall 2016
    • Hamlet among the Buffaloes: the Graveyard and the Frontier , First Folio ProjectTalk/Oral Presentation, New Mexico Museum of Art , Invited, Santa Fe, NM, Spring 2016
    • Ovid on the Margins , Pacific Ancient and Modern Language AssociationKeynote Lecture, PAMLA, Invited, Pepperdine University, Fall 2005

    Other Presentations

    • The Metamorphoses and the Liberty of Speech in Early Modern England, Metamorphoses: A Critical Reappraisal, Stockholm, Sweden, 2015-2016
    • The Problem of Poetry in The Faerie Queene, Book V, Hugh MacLean Lecture, MLA, Vancouver, 2015-2016
    • Spenser and the Gods, Invited lecture, St Andrews, 2004-2005
  • Book

    • James, H. (2021). Ovid and the Liberty of Speech in Shakespeare’s England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • 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 Chapters

    • James, H. (2020). The Crack-Up: Modernity and the Mind of Richard II. Monarchs and Madmen pp. 1-23. Peter Lang.
    • James, H. (2016). Classical genres: epic, tragedy, comedy satire. The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
    • James, H. (2016). Time, Verisimilitude, and the Counter-Classical Ovid. Shakespeare In Our Time: the SAA 2016 London: Arden Publishing.
    • 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. (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. (2022). The Graveyard and the Frontier: Hamlet Among the Buffaloes. Representations. Vol. 159 (1), pp. 58-89. Hamlet Among the Buffaloes
    • James, H. (2019). An Aethiopian Sodomite, Aesop, and Ovid: the Undoing of Dynastic Epic in Ariosto’s Orlando furioso. Modern Philology. Vol. 117 (2), pp. 163-193.
    • James, H. (2016). The Ovidian Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Boy Actors: Q2 Juliet. Shakespeare Survey / Cambridge UP. Vol. 69
    • 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.
    • Poetic License: Politics and Invention in Renaissance English Poetry, English, Spring 2021
    • 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, Spring 2007
    • Huntington Library Research Fellowship Recipient, Fletcher Jones Foundation Long-Term Fellow , 2015-2016
    • USC Center for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty Fellow, 2009/01-2010/12
    • 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
  • Committees

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

    • Invited Organizer and Co-Chair with A. Braunmuller, Representing Politics on Shakespeare’s Stage , Huntington Library, 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
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