Like Hannah Arendt, I see the past as a deep, chaotic sea floor, where various "pearls" are buried, often by pain and suffering. We risk a dive into the past so that we can bring back something to the present that might, in turn, change our future.
Associate Professor of PhilosophyCenter for Geographies of Justice
Martin Shuster's research interests are in ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, critical theory, and philosophy of religion. He teaches courses that put philosophers from diverse traditions into conversation with contemporary events, whether ordinary or extraordinary. Since 2020, he holds the Professorship of Judaic Studies and Justice, and from 2016-2020, he directed the Judaic studies program. Through the Goucher Prison Education Partnership (GPEP), he has taught at the Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup, while in 2019, he was 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 books. The first is titled Genocide and the State: Homogeneity and Modern Political Philosophy. It presents an alternative history of modern political philosophy (from Hobbes to Arendt) that locates exclusion and violence as the central feature of the concept of the state. The second is a short book called Critical Theory: The Basics in Routledge's The Basics series, focusing on the Frankfurt School and its contemporary relevance. With Henry Pickford, I am also now editing the Oxford Handbook of Theodor W. Adorno, under contract with Oxford University Press.
Areas of Expertise
Value theory (ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics), Critical theory, Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy (broadly conceived), American philosophy (esp. Richard Rorty and Stanley Cavell), and Philosophy of Religion (esp. Jewish thought and philosophy)
How to Measure a World? A Philosophy of Judaism (Indiana University Press, 2021).
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 Books and Journal Issues
Logics of Genocide: The Structures of Violence and the Contemporary World, with Anne O'Byrne. Preface by Donald Bloxham. Routledge, 2020.
Inaugural Issue of Adorno Studies, edited w/ Kathy Kiloh, Adorno Studies, 1:1, 2017, i-iv + 1-104.
Philosophy and New American Television Series, edited w/ Paola Marrati, special issue of Modern Language Notes (MLN), 127:5, 2013, vii-ix + 981-1095.
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
“A Comedian and a Fascist Walk into Freud’s Bar: On the Mass Character of Standup Comedy,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 78:4 (2020), 525-534.
“Education for the World: Adorno and Cavell,” in Kit Dobson and Ada Jaarsma, eds. Dissonant Methods: Undoing Discipline in the Humanities (University of Alberta Press, 2020), 3-18.
“Hegel and State Homogenization,” in Anne O’Byrne and Martin Shuster, eds. Logics of Genocide: The Structures of Violence and the Contemporary World (Routledge, 2020), 19-35.
"The Critique of the Enlightenment," in Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky, editors. Blackwell Companion to Adorno (Wiley-Blackwell, 2020), 251-271.
“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.
Selected (Recent) Public Philosophy and Other Publications
Kojin Karatani, Political Theology Network, February 2021.
Ten Theses on Jewish Studies, AJS Perspectives, December 2020.
QAnon as a Byproduct of a Broken America, Public Seminar, October 2020.
Sentencing the Present: Value & Revaluing, Public Seminar, May 2020.
When The Pandemic Reveals Genocide, LA Review of Books, April 2020.
Tarantino, Race, and the Construction of American History, LA Review of Books, January 2020.
Our golden age of TV: amid collapse, a new family emerges, Aeon, May 2018.
The Right Holocaust Lessons Can Help Us Prevent the Next One, The Forward, April 2018.
External Awards, Honors, Grants
Andrew W. Mellon Periclean Faculty Leader Award, 2020.
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, Shuster has contributed to Public Seminar, the Los Angeles Review of Books, 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 about his prior monograph, New Television: The Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre, at the New Books Network.
- April 29, 2020
Associate Professor of Philosophy Martin Shuster wrote an essay in the @LAReviewofBooks called "When the Pandemic Reveals Genocide."