SCANDINAVIAN 180: The Works, Context, and Legacy of Søren Kierkegaard

MWF 1-2 , Dwinelle 83. Instructor: TBA

Units: 4

New location as of Wednesday Sept 5: Dwinelle 189.

The Danish author Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) wrote novels, as well as works of philosophy and theology. He is best known for the books Either/Or (which contains the novella The Seducer’s Diary), Fear and Trembling, and The Sickness unto Death. Today, we can speak of a “leap of faith” or “existential angst” (or anxiety) thanks to him. During his lifetime, Kierkegaard experienced these concepts personally, as he found himself at the center of three public scandals. The first was the broken engagement to his fiancée, which “made him a poet”; the second was his being caricatured for months by a dubious newspaper; and the third was his polemical attack on the Danish Lutheran State Church. But how did this outsider from Copenhagen win a posthumous reputation far beyond Northern Europe, reaching the United States, Argentina, Nigeria, and Japan (to name just a few of the countries with Søren Kierkegaard societies)? And how did Kierkegaard come to influence the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, the African American novelist Richard Wright, or the Argentinian short story writer Jorge Luis Borges? These are just some of the questions that we will begin to answer in this course.

All readings will be in English, and no previous experience in literary, philosophical or religious studies is necessary.

Texts: course reader.