Kierkegaard's Authorship

Course content

A study of the works of Copenhagen’s most radical author, Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Kierkegaard’s entire authorship is centered around the existential project that every human being is confronted with: to become oneself and none other than oneself. And as he sees it, becoming oneself does not happen passively and is never achieved once and for all, but rather requires constant effort. He often describes this project as one of taking responsibility for “choosing,” “gaining,” or “becoming oneself.”

This course examines his witty, humorous, but also deeply earnest exploration of the psychology of self-identity. Kierkegaard’s thoughts about the struggle for personhood take us through unusual philosophical territories: beginning with the breakdown of culture-specific ethnic and religious categories that have traditionally defined the self, he speaks of the culturally destructive power of Socratic irony, the art of seduction, beauty and boredom, religious culture and politics, religious demands that conflict with ethical duty, chronic sicknesses of the soul, the look of the Other, the struggle to see with the eye of faith, the joy of being embodied here and now, and finally, love.

We will remain especially attentive to the ways in which Kierkegaard’s thought is critical of inherited ethnic and cultural definitions of self, and why he nonetheless considers a willed openness to the other (the human other and the divine other) to be absolutely essential to understanding oneself and one’s obligations in the world.

The course will be reading intensive as we explore some of Kierkegaard’s central works including Either/Or, The Sickness unto Death, Works of Love, and some of his devotional works.


Type of assessment
Written assignment
a) active participation (minimum presence: 75% of all lectures); b) course literature: 1200-1500 pages; c) sub-mission of term paper (12-15 pages, based on 500-750 pages of approved literature). Evaluation is given by the teacher.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28