Vincent Farenga

Professor Emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature
Pronouns He / Him / His Email Office PED 130S Office Phone (213) 740-0106

Research & Practice Areas

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.


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

    • 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
  • 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.

  • Conference Presentations

    • “”Eyewitness Testimony, Trauma, and Authoritative Truth Speaking in Aeschylus” ” , University at Buffalo Classics Conference on Aeschylus, The Peradotto Sessions IITalk/Oral Presentation, University at Buffalo Classics Department, Invited, New York, New York, Fall 2018
    • “”Speaking with Authority about Justice: Theories of Justice and the Literature of Injustice” ” Talk/Oral Presentation, USC Gould School of Law, Center for Law, History a, Invited, USC, Spring 2014
    • “”Citizens: Agents, and Persons: Citizenship in Four Dimensions”” , The Philosophy of Paideia in Ancient Greece: What Does It Mean to Us Today?”Keynote Lecture, Foundation “Towards Citizenship” , Invited, World Trade Centre (Hangzhou, PRC), 2012-2013
    • “”Citizenship in Four Dimensions”” , A Round Table Discussion on Current Research in Ancient Greek DemocracyRoundtable/Panel, Department of History, Fudan Univerfsity, Invited, Department of History, Fudan University (Shanghai, PRC), 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, Foundation “Towards Citizenship” and The Associati, Invited, Zheijang University (Hangzhou, PRC), 2012-2013
    • “”Who Can ‘Author” Justice? The Philosophy of Justice and Theories of Justice”” Talk/Oral Presentation, USC Philosophy Club, Invited, USC, Spring 2013
    • “”Authoring Justice: Contemporary Theories of Justice and the Literature of Injustice” ” , UCLA Politcal Theory WorkshopTalk/Oral Presentation, Department of Political Science, Invited, UCLA, 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 Levan Institute for Humanities & Ethics; Unive, USC, 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, Classics Dept., U Toronto, Invited, University of Toronto, 2009-2010
    • “”Rights, Recognition, and the Self: The Transformation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.”” , American Comparative Literature Conference.Talk/Oral Presentation, ACLA, Harvard University, 2008-2009
    • “”Literature and the Philosophy of Justice: Contemporary Voices and Models”” , International Conference on New Directions in the HumanitiesTalk/Oral Presentation, Common Ground, American University, Paris, 07/20/2007
  • Book

    • 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. (2015). 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.
    • Farenga, V. (2015). “Liberty, Equality, and Authority in Theory and Practice: Greek Participatory Communities”. The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Democracies and pp. 12. Hoboken, NJ 07030: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Book Review

    • Farenga, V. (2014). Review: Alexander the Great: A Reader. Second Edition. Classical Review. pp. 1-3.
    • Farenga, V. (2014). Review: Alexander the Great: The Story of an Ancient Life. Classical 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.
    • USC General Education Teaching Award, College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, Fall 1999
    • Fellowship for College Teachers, 1984-1985
  • Office Hours

      Mon and Wed : 2-4 (Mon) and 2-3 (Wed), and by appointment
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Classics Department, 08/25/2013
    • Interim Chair, 01/01/2013-05/15/2013
    • 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

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

    • Faculty Participant in Warrior Bards Program for Community Veterans,

    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