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Martin Shuster

James M. Motley Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

Ethics, Aesthetics, Social and Political Philosophy, 19/20th Century European Philosophy, Kant and German Idealism, and Jewish Thought and Philosophy

The Humanities Center
Gilman 246
Johns Hopkins University
3400 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Fax: 410-516-7354


Martin Shuster joins the Humanities Center after teaching for three years as the Chauncey Truax postdoctoral fellow in the Philosophy department at Hamilton College. Shuster received his Ph.D. in 2010 from the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University. He also holds two M.A. degrees, one in Philosophy from Johns Hopkins and another in Religion from Yale. Shuster’s work centers on issues in social and political philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics, especially in dialogue with Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy. He also has a strong interest in the work of Stanley Cavell and in philosophy of religion, particularly Jewish thought and philosophy.

His first book, Autonomy after Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming, 2014) elaborates, within the normative environment of a world 'after Auschwitz,' Adorno’s elusive notion of autonomy. In dialogue with contemporary Anglo American philosophy as much as with German Idealism (including contemporary appropriations of German Idealism), Shuster presents Adorno’s moral psychology, philosophy of action, and ethical theory. He shows how each depends as much on Adorno’s varied critiques of autonomy in the German Idealist tradition as on his differing strategies for re-conceptualizing the notion. Autonomy after Auschwitz thereby situates Adorno as an important voice in contemporary discussions of normativity, autonomy, and ethics.

Shuster is presently finishing a second book, titled From a Vast Wasteland: Philosophy, America, and New Television. The book centers on the relationship between aesthetics, modernity, and political agency, focusing on the political and aesthetic significance of shows termed ‘new television’ (shows like The Wire, Breaking Bad, Weeds, and others). In dialogue with contemporary political philosophy, phenomenology, and philosophy of film and photography, Shuster argues that these shows are (1) significant innovations within the medium of the moving image, and (2) important for contemporary discussions of American democracy. He has edited (with Paola Marrati) an issue of MLN on the topic of new television, and has organized a series of conferences on the subject for the last three years (the last of which was Hamilton’s first undergraduate philosophy conference).

Additionally, Shuster is currently working on three other projects, in various stages of completion: (1) a project in applied ethics that focuses on the use of drone technology, (2) a book length project on the conceptual connection between notions of autonomy and conceptions of the nation state, especially in German Idealism and 20th Century European philosophy, and (3) a book length project on Salomon Maimon’s Jewish philosophy. He also has standing interests in the work of Hannah Arendt and in Emmanuel Levinas.

Shuster is the recipient of a number of awards, teaching and otherwise, and the founder (with Kathy Kiloh) and president of the Association for Adorno Studies. With Kathy Kiloh, he is also in the process of launching the journal, Adorno Studies. In 2007-2008, he was the Diane and Howard Wohl fellow in residence at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Shuster has taught widely in philosophy and religious studies. While at Hamilton he taught courses as varied as Philosophy of Humor, Ancient Philosophy, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Hannah Arendt, Philosophy of Film and Television, and Only a God Can Save Us Now: The Experience of Modernity.

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