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Martin Woessner

Faculty and Staff Profiles

Martin Woessner

Associate Professor of History & Society

25 Broadway 7-56
Phone Number: 
(212) 925-6625 x259
(212) 925-0963

Martin Woessner is Associate Professor of History & Society at The City College of New York's Center for Worker Education (CUNY). Martin received his BA in history and philosophy from the University of San Francisco in 1999, and his PhD in modern intellectual history from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2006.  He teaches interdisciplinary courses in twentieth-century intellectual and cultural history at both the graduate and undergraduate levels—courses such as "Inventing the Americas," "Religion in the Americas," "The Age of Extremes," "Weimar in America," "Capitalism and Anti-capitalism from Adam Smith to Slavoj Zizek," "The History of Human Rights," and "Genocide in the Twentieth Century." As the director of the Frances S. Patai Program at CWE from 2008-2013, Martin oversaw courses and an annual lecture series devoted to themes in Holocaust, genocide, an human rights studies.  For CWE's MA Program in the Study of the Americas, Martin has also directed theses on a number of transnational and interdisciplinary topics.  

Martin's first book, Heidegger in America (Cambridge UP, 2011), examines the American reception of the work of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger.  It covers a wide range of subjects in philosophy, theology, cultural studies, and contemporary theory.  Martin's current research focuses on transnational intellectual and cultural history in the twentieth century, especially as they relate to issues of human rights and social justice.  He is particularly interested in the history and theory of moral inquiry.  Martin's previous work has led to essays and articles on the philosopher and UN human rights advocate Charles Malik, the filmmaker Terrence Malick, and such philosophical novelists as Iris Murdoch and J.M. Coetzee, among others. 

Martin has received fellowships from the Center for Humanities as well as the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics—both at the CUNY Graduate Center. In 2004 he was the recipient of a Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship, and in May 2011 he received the Feliks Gross Endowment Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement from the CUNY Academy for the Humanities and Sciences.  For the 2013-2014 academic year Martin received a CCNY Scholar Incentive Award to pursue his current research projects.


BA History and Philosophy, University of San Francisco, 1999

PhD Modern Intellectual History, City University of New York, 2006

Courses Taught
  • Weimar in America (MA)
  • Weimar in America (MA)
  • Religion in the Americas (MA)
  • Inventing the Americas (MA)
  • Capitalism and Anti-capitalism from Adam Smith to Slavoj Zizek
  • Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies
  • History of Women, War, and Peace (Patai Program)
  • Genocide in the Twentieth Century (Patai Program)
  • History of Human Rights (Patai Program)
  • The Age of Extremes: Intellectual and Cultural History between Calamity and Prosperity
  • The Urban Experience: Europe in the Twentieth Century
  • Resistance and Collaboration in the Second World War (Patai Program)
  • Core Social Science II
Research Interests


[Reviewed in La Quinzaine Litteraire; Theological Studies; Journal of American Studies; Philosophy in Review; American Historical Review; Radical Philosophy; Human Studies; Modern Intellectual History; Common Knowledge, Irish Journal of American Studies; German History]

I am currently working on two interdisciplinary book projects.  The first--The Literary Turn: The Moral Imaginations of Stanley Cavell, Martha Nussbaum, and Richard Rorty--carries forward the story of Heidegger in America.  It examines the recent history of American philosophy as it relates to both the continental and Anglo-American traditions of thought, but it is also a case-study in the evolution of "interdisciplinary inquiry," especially as it relates to moral inquiry.  The second project examines the historical films of philosopher-turned-filmmaker Terrence Malick.  It explores the intersection of film and contemporary American thought.  In addition to these projects, a number of forthcoming article-length pieces and reviews are listed below.  

Recent Presentations

"The Philosopher as Filmmaker: Terrence Malick and the Examined Life," California Institute of the Arts (November 6, 2014).

"'A Position of Sufficient Humility': Martha Nussbaum on Love and Literature," for the "Philosophy, Literature, America" conference at University College Dublin (May 30-31, 2014).

"'The Willingness to Find Yourself Lost': Stanley Cavell on Literature and the Ethical Imagination," Society for United States Intellectual History (UC Irvine, Nov 1-3, 2013).

"On the Secularization of Sin: From Royce to Rawls," Royce, California, and the World Conference (Grass Valley, CA, August 16-18, 2013).

"The Cinema of Solitude: Terrence Malick, Martin Heidegger, and the Meaning of Human Existence," Society for United States Intellectual History (CUNY Graduate Center, November 1-2, 2012).

"The Critique of Historical Reason and Its Political Consequences," Lebanon Valley College (March 29, 2012).



"Plato at the Multiplex," Review of Paul W. Kahn, Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation (New York: Columbia UP, 2013) and Nathan Andersen, Shadow Philosophy: Plato's Cave and Cinema (New York: Routledge, 2014), Los Angeles Review of Books, October 18th, 2014.

"Peter de Bolla's Human Rights Edifice," Review of Peter de Bolla, The Architecture of Concepts: The Historical Formation of Human Rights(New York: Fordham UP, 2013), Los Angeles Review of Books, June 25th, 2014.

Review of Lawrence J. Friedman, with the assistance of Anke M. Schreiber, The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love's Prophet (New York: Columbia UP, 2013), Journal of American Studies 48:2 (May 2014).  Exclusive online review.

Review of Benjamin Gregg, Human Rights as Social Construction (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2012), Human Rights Review 15:2 (June 2014): 229-231.

Review of Woman-Killing in Juarez: Theodicy at the Border by Rafael Luevano, Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, special issue on "Decoloniality and Crisis," edited by Jeffrey W. Robbins 13:1 (January 2014).

"Provincializing Human Rights? The Heideggerian Legacy from Charles Malik to Dipesh Chakrabarty" in Jose Manuel Barreto, ed., Human Rights from a Third-World Perspective (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013), 65-101.

Review of History in the Plural: An Introduction to the Work of Reinhart Koselleck by Niklas Olsen, American Historical Review 118:1 (February 2013)150-151.

Review of Theology and the Boundary Discourse of Human Rights, by Ethna Regan, Human Rights Review 13:1 (2012): 131-133.


"What is Heideggerian Cinema?  Film, Philosophy, and Cultural Mobility" New German Critique 38 (Summer 2011): 129-157.

"Reconsidering the Slaughter Bench of History: Genocide, Theodicy, and the Philosophy of History," Journal of Genocide Research 13:1-2 (March-June 2011): 83-102.

 "Angst across the Channel: Existentialism in Britain" forthcoming in Robert Bernasconi and Jonathan Judaken, eds., Situating Existentialism(New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 145-179.

Heidegger in America (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011). 


"Coetzee's Critique of Reason," in Anton Leist and Peter Singer, eds., J. M. Coetzee and Ethics: Philosophical Perspectives on Literature(New York: Columbia UP, 2010), 223-247.  [Reviewed in TLS 23 February 2011] 

"A New Ontology for the Era of the New Economy: On Edward W. Soja's Seeking Spatial Justice," City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action 14:6 (December 2010): 601-603.

"Rescuing the 'Right to the City'," City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action 13:4 (December 2009): 474-475. 

"American Intellectual and Cultural History in the Age of Globalization," Intellectual News: Review of the international society for intellectual history 15 (Winter 2005): 24-33. 

"Daniel Libeskind: From the End of Architecture to the Space of Memory," in Gary Backhaus and John Murungi, eds., Lived Topographies: and their Mediating Forces (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2005), 145-160.  

"J. Glenn Gray: Philosopher, Translator (of Heidegger), and Warrior," Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal in American Philosophy XL:3 (Summer 2004): 487-512. 

"Ethics, Architecture, and Heidegger: "Building Dwelling Thinking" in an American Context," City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action, 7:1 (April 2003): 23-44.

Forthcoming articles and reviews:

"Cosmic Cinema: On the Philosophical Films of Terrence Malick," La Maleta de Portbou (November-December, 2014).

Review of Raffaele Laudani, ed., Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort, with a foreword by Raymond Geuss (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2013), Central European History.

"Hermeneutic Communism: Left Heideggerianism's Last Hope?" in Silvia Mazzini, ed., Renewing Communism through Hermeneutics?(Continuum, 2015).

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