“Hannah Arendt once compared the past to a chaotic sea floor, ready for pearl divers: we all inherit ideas from past, many of them opaque or hidden, oftentimes covered over by pain and suffering. On such a view, philosophy is there to help us find pearls in the past--those things that when discovered would help transform our present world."
Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Director of Judaic studiesCenter for Geographies of Justice
Martin Shuster's research interests are in European philosophy, political philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, critical theory, and philosophy of religion (esp. Jewish thought and philosophy). He has particular interests in philosophers writing in the wake of the Nazi genocide (Adorno, Levinas, Arendt), in earlier German philosophy (Kant and German Idealism), in the connections between Anglophone and European philosophy, and in how philosophy intersects with religion and the arts, especially film and television. He teaches courses across the history of philosophy, from ancient to contemporary. Through the Goucher Prison Education Partnership (GPEP), he has also taught at the Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup, and he has been a visiting professor at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Research, Scholarship, Creative Work in Progress
In addition to several articles, I am completing two book length projects. The first, titled Genocide and the State: The Coldest of Cold Monsters, draws on philosophy, genocide studies, political and critical theory, and intellectual history in order to trace a structural relationship between the perpetration of genocide and the very fact that we have organized ourselves into nation states. The second, titled How to Measure a World?, tells a subterranean history of Jewish philosophy as oriented around the notion of ‘world’ and traces this theme from Moses Maimonides to Theodor W. Adorno. Finally, I am also working on two edited collections. With Anne O’Byrne, I am finishing work on a volume called Logics of Genocide: The Structures of Violence and the Contemporary World, under contract with Indiana University Press. With Henry Pickford, I am beginning work on the Oxford Handbook of Theodor W. Adorno, under contract with Oxford University Press.
Areas of Expertise
European philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, critical theory, American philosophy, and philosophy of religion (esp. Jewish thought and philosophy)
New Television: The Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre (University of Chicago Press, 2017).
Autonomy after Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity (University of Chicago Press, 2014)
Edited Journal Issues
Philosophy and New American Television Series, edited w/ Paola Marrati, special issue of Modern Language Notes (MLN), 127:5, 2013, vii-ix + 981-1095.
Inaugural Issue of Adorno Studies, edited w/ Kathy Kiloh, Adorno Studies, 1:1, 207, i-iv + 1-104.
Jean-François Kervégan, L’effectif et le rationnel. Hegel et l’esprit objectif, translated w/ Daniela Ginsburg and published as The Actual and the Rational: Hegel and Objective Spirit (University of Chicago Press, 2018).
Theodor W. Adorno, “Thesen über Bedürfnis,” translated with Iain Macdonald and published as “Theses on Need,” Adorno Studies, 1:1, 2016, 101-104.
Revised version reprinted in new paperback edition of Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Towards a New Manifesto (Verso, 2019).
Articles and Book Chapters
“Rorty and (the Politics of) Love,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, 40:1 (2019), 65-78.
“On the Importance of World: Phenomenology in Maimonides’s Guide for the Perplexed,” The Journal of Religion, 99:2 (2019), 194-218.
“Levinas and German Idealism: Fichte and Hegel,” in Michael Morgan, editor. Oxford Handbook of Emmanuel Levinas (Oxford University Press, 2019), 195-215.
“The Language of Closure: Homogeneity, Exclusion, and the State,” in Andrea Pitts and Mark Westmoreland, eds. Beyond Bergson: Examining Race, Gender, and Colonialism through the Writings of Henri Bergson (Philosophy and Race Series, SUNY, 2019), 37-56.
“Philosophy of History” in Espen Hammer, Peter Gordon, and Axel Honneth, eds. Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School (Routledge, 2019), 48-64.
“Hannah Arendt on the Evil of Not Being a Person,” Philosophy Compass (2018), 13:7, 1-13.
Reply to Charlotte Baumann, Robert Hanna, and Henry Pickford in the Critique Symposium on Autonomy after Auschwitz, September 2017.
“A Phenomenology of Home: Jean Améry on Homesickness,” Journal of French and Francophone Studies, 24:3, 2016, 117-127.
“Adorno and Negative Theology,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, 37:1, 2016, 97-130.
“The Ordinariness and Absence of the World: Cavell’s Ontology of the Screen—Reading The World Viewed,” Modern Language Notes (MLN), 130:5, 2015, 1067-1099.
“On the Ethical Basis of Language: Davidson, Levinas, and Cavell on Language and Others,” Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, 14:2, 2015, 241-266.
“Nothing to Know: The Epistemology of Moral Perfectionism in Adorno and Cavell,” Idealistic Studies, 44:1, 2014, 1-29.
“Kant’s Opus Postumum and McDowell’s Critique of Kant,” The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 52:4, 2014, 427-444.
“Humor as an Optics: Bergson and the Ethics of Humor,” Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, 28:3, 2013, 618-632.
“‘Boyd and I dug coal together’ - Norms, Persons, and being justified in Justified,” Modern Language Notes (MLN), 127:5, 2013, 1040-1058.
“Loneliness and Language: Arendt, Cavell, and Modernity,” International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 20:4, 2012, 473-497.
“Internal Relations and the Possibility of Evil: On Cavell and Monstrosity,” European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, 2:2, 2010, 74-84.
“Philosophy and Genocide,” in Donald Bloxham and A. Dirk Moses, eds. Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies (Oxford University Press, 2010), 217-235.
“Being as Breath, Vapor as Joy—Using Heidegger to Re-Read the Book of Ecclesiastes,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 33:2, December 2008, 219-244.
External Awards, Honors, Grants
Summer Faculty Research Workshop Leader (w/ Anne O'Byrne), Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2015: "Genocide, Agency, and the Nation State after Auschwitz"
Co-Principal Investigator (w/ J. Aaron Simmons) for "A Cross-Cultural Inquiry into Religious Understanding," through theVarieties of Understanding: New Perspectives from Psychology, Philosophy, and Theology, Research Grant (Fordham University/Templeton Foundation), 2014-2015.
Diane and Howard Wohl Scholar in Residence, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, 2007-2008.
Other Professional or Scholarly Activity
In addition to radio and public appearances, see contributions to The Jewish Forward, Aeon, Culture on the Edge, The Moth Chase, and Four by Three Magazine.
Here is a recent interview at the American Philosophical Association blog. And here is a recent appearance on local NPR (WYPR) talking about television and religion. Finally, here's a podcast of me talking about my latest book, New Television: The Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre at the New Books Network.