Martin Shuster is Professor of Philosophy and the Isaac Swift Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His research interests are in ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, critical theory, and philosophy of religion. He works across a range of traditions and time periods, oftentimes engaging fields like genocide studies, film theory, television studies, psychoanalysis, and various kinds of critical theory. In 2019, Shuster was Visiting Professor at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (2019). His work has been supported by Project Pericles, the Templeton Foundation, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he was a scholar in residence in 2007-2008. For years, he has also been involved with teaching in prisons.
He is currently completing two books. The first is Genocide and the State: An Alternative History of Modern Political Philosophy. Ranging across several disciplines–most notably philosophy, Holocaust and genocide studies, ethnic thought, political and critical theory of various stripes–the book argues that conceptually embedded in the innermost core of the Western concept of the state from Hobbes to Hegel is a homogenizing imperative that makes genocide a perpetual byproduct of the global state order. The second, with Henry Pickford, is the Oxford Handbook of Theodor W. Adorno, under contract with Oxford University Press.
- Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
- M.A., Johns Hopkins University
- M.A., Yale University
- B.A., University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Recent Articles and Book Chapters
“‘You Get Paid For Pain’: Kingdom and the Genre New Television,” in Sandra Laugier and David LaRocca, eds. Television with Stanley Cavell in Mind (University of Exeter Press, 2023), 50-67.
“‘Dig if you will the picture…’: New Television, Myth, Black Monday, and the 1980s,” Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 3:301 (2022), 105-119.
“Rewatching, Film, and New Television,” Open Philosophy, 5:1 (2021), 17-30.
“Le racisme anti-noir, l’antisémitisme et l’État: Fanon, l’école de Francfort et la tradition du contrat social,” Les Cahiers Philosophiques de Strasbourg, 50. (2021), 147-171.
“New Television and Film” in Chiel van den Akker, The Routledge Companion to Historical Theory (Routledge, 2021), 446-461.
“Fleabag, Modernism, and New Television,” Canadian Review of American Studies, 51:3, 324-336.
“On Ever-Growing Numbers of Human Refuse Heaps and the Scope of History,” Arendt Studies, 5 (2021), 27-35. Special author meets critics symposium on Seyla Benhabib’s Exile, Statelessness, and Migration: Playing Chess With History (Princeton University Press, 2018).
“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.
“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.
Recent and Upcoming Classes
Ethics after Auschwitz (PHIL5000; cross-listed with RELS). Fall 2022.
This course will center around what it means to “go on”—to live and function—as an ethical agent and as a human being in a world “after Auschwitz,” taken expansively to refer to an entire century of genocides, mass murder, extreme violence, and depredation. Throughout the course, we will focus on the ways in which various thinkers have assessed, responded to, and ultimately understood Western modernity after a century of mass murder, what they claim it revealed about humanity and society, and especially what it suggests for or proposes about our future. Some of the topics we may consider include racism, antisemitism, imperialism, and colonialism, and how these variously relate to genocidal violence, thinking especially about whether genocidal impulses continue to be found in present day institutions and forms of agency. Some of the figures we read may include Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, Theodor W. Adorno, Jean Améry, Aimé Césaire, Charlotte Delbo, and others.
Critical Theory and Philosophy (PHIL3620). Spring 2023.
This course will offer philosophy majors the opportunity to conclude their major by critically reflecting on the practice of philosophy itself. Our readings will examine notions of philosophy and critique, about what it means to be a philosopher versus a critic or a critical theorist, and about what possibilities philosophy offers us as a human being in the contemporary world. The class will revolve around a longer paper writing assignment and a presentation of the same; we will also spend sessions thinking seriously about how your major and the training it offers relates to your life as a graduate of the university.
Karl Marx (PHIL3009; cross-listed with CAPI, GERM, INTL). Fall 2023.
This course will be an introduction to Marx’s thought. By reading Marx’s writings, we will aim to understand Marx as a philosopher with a comprehensive “take” on the modern world. Some of the concepts we will discuss may include alienation, capital, class struggle, ideology, utopia, and revolution (to name a few). We will conclude the class by reading one or two figures that respond explicitly to Marx (some examples of figures we may choose are Rosa Luxemburg, Kōjin Karatani, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, Raya Dunayevskaya, Grace Lee Boggs, Ellen Meiksins Wood, or others).
Philosophy of Humor (PHIL1512; LBST2211). Spring 2024.
We all like to laugh and find things amusing—but why? What makes something humorous? Why is offensive humor offensive? Can humor be unethical or wrong? What role can humor play in politics? This course will examine these questions and others in order to understand the function and importance of humor to human life. Because humor touches on almost every facet of human life, this class will also serve as an introduction to philosophy.