James Collins: What Matters to Me and Why, Part I





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Uploaded on Mar 4, 2011

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James Collins, assistant professor of classics and undergraduate adviser for USC's classics program, discussed the topic "What Matters to Me and Why" on Dec. 1, 2010.

What is important to someone who looks at philosophy as a lifestyle?

James Collins came to USC as a lecturer in the college in 2008. Currently he is assistant professor of classics and undergraduate adviser for the classics program.

As a graduate student at Stanford University, he conducted research on ancient philosophy, intellectual and social history, and performance theory, with an emphasis 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.

Prof. Collins' current research develops the notion of philosophy as a political and social pursuit among other competing and similarly commodified lifestyles. This project aims to determine 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.

While completing his Ph.D. at Stanford, Collins also co-founded the interdisciplinary Philosophical Stages program, which develops strategies for introducing people of all ages and walks of life to philosophy as an active, live discipline through dramatic and rhetorical performance.

Philosophical Stages 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 spring 2008, the undergraduate participants of "Performing Wisdom" (CORE 499) combined close readings of Pre-Socratics, Sophists, Plato and Stoics with a weekly drama lab that 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."

Prof. Collins has taught a variety of other courses at USC, including undergraduate courses on ancient epic and classical mythology, major courses on Greek and Latin poetry and prose, and graduate surveys of Latin literature.

"What Matters to Me and Why" is sponsored by the USC Office of Religious Life and the USC Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics.

Learn more about the University of Southern California: http://www.usc.edu

Learn more about the USC Office of Religious Life: http://orl.usc.edu/

Learn more about "What Matters to Me and Why": http://orl.usc.edu/programs/whatmatters/

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