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Scott C. Shershow
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Scott C. Shershow

  • Professor of English
256 Voorhies
Davis, CA Office Hours: Tuesday 2-3 PM and by appointment


BA, Yale University, 1975
BA, New College, Oxford University, 1977
MA, PhD, Harvard University, 1983

Scott Cutler Shershow's recent research has focused on the application of deconstruction to legal and political issues.  His newest book is Deconstructing Dignity: A Critique of the Right-to-Die Debate (2014).  Other recent publications include essays on Derrida and Agamben, as well as a series of collaborative essays addressing the issues of economic welfare, affirmative action, torture, the Guantanamo detainees, and the vexed relation of state secrecy and personal privacy.  He has also published on topics in the history and theory of drama, popular culture, and early-modern theater.  His current research interests include critical theory, science-fiction, and contemporary stand-up comedy.




dignity cover

Deconstructing Dignity:

A Critique of the Right-to-Die Debate


The question of a “right to die” — or what is sometimes called euthanasia or assisted-suicide — remains today the subject of vexed legal, political, ethical and philosophic debates.  Deconstructing Dignity brings the thought of deconstruction to bear on this debate to uncover the knot of unexamined assumptions at its core.  

"Scott Shershow is engaged here in practical deconstruction of the highest order and most compelling kind. ... this book does not just shift the debate; it turns it to face an utterly new, unknown direction, the only direction from which a future can come."

— Peggy Kamuf, co-editor of The Seminars of Jacques Derrida 


"Thinking and Rethinking the Right to Die":

An essay on the University of Chicago Press blog


work gift cover

The Work and the Gift

The Work and the Gift considers how, in a wide range of western culture and thought, the ideas of working and giving remain locked in a fatal dilemma, each one representing the other's aspiration and absolute limit. Ranging from Marx and Derrida to Friedrich Hayek and Alvin Toffler, this book explores, among other things: the predictions of social thinkers on both the Right and the Left about a coming crisis of work; the debates among anthropologists and historians about an archaic gift-economy that preceded capitalism and might re-emerge in its wake; contemporary political battles over charity and social welfare; and attempts by modern and postmodern artists to destabilize the Work of art. The book also finally envisions, beyond these self-defeating oppositions of work and gift, a community of unworking, grounded neither in ideals of production and progress, nor even in an ethic of liberal generosity, but simply in our fundamental being-in-common.


"An acute and multifaceted approach to a burning debate where is put into play our present civilization and its future."

-- Jean-Joseph Goux, Rice University 


 Other Publications

In collaboration with Scott Michaelsen:



Education & Interests:

  1. Ph.D.(Harvard); Critical theory, popular culture, history and theory of drama

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