This Unit seeks to explore the significance of the religious thought and ethics of Kierkegaard for contemporary culture in its various aspects — social, political, ecclesiastical, theological, philosophical, and aesthetic.
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Kierkegaard, Religion, and Culture Unit
Call for Proposals
This year, the Kierkegaard, Religion, and Culture Unit invites proposals for sessions on the following topics:
- Kierkegaard on Preferential Attachments and Love for Strangers and Enemies
This session calls for papers that explore the relation of ordinary human affiliative dispositions, such as friendship, romance, familial affection, patriotism, partisanship, and other loyalties to particular communities, to the more extraordinary forms of Christian love, such as loving strangers and enemies, in Kierkegaard’s literature. The problem, as Kierkegaard develops it, is that ordinary forms of attachment presuppose a preference for some people over others, while the exhortation to love all neighbors seems to have a universal scope and therefore to be non-preferential. For generations many interpreters of Kierkegaard have highlighted his frequent dichotomization of the preferential loves and non-preferential neighbor love, and have often seen this disjunction as an essential component of his critique of complacent collectivities. However, in more recent decades some of his expositors, inspired by the pioneering work of such scholars as Jamie Ferreira, have sought to find significant continuities between the two types of love. In the last few years the interpretive debate has heated up again, with proponents of both trajectories proliferating books and articles. The current rise of public debate about organic forms of human sociability, including nationalism and ethnic solidarity, and the valorization of romance and family cohesion, suggests that a reconsideration of Kierkegaard’s writings about these matters is extraordinarily timely.
- Kierkegaard and the Press, Then and Now
This session calls for papers that address Kierkegaard’s relationship to newspapers and members of the press during his lifetime and, relatedly, Kierkegaard’s significance for analyzing various trends and forms of traditional and emerging media today. In our age social media, multimedia production, the digital turn, and corporate media consolidation have radically altered the ways in which societies and individuals receive and interact with journalism, news coverage, ideas, opinion, and critical discourse. How did Kierkegaard negotiate his relationship with the press, journalism and critical discourse in the 19th century? How do Kierkegaard’s methods, approaches and ideas apply to the new sets of relations, platforms and technologies in the 20th and 21st centuries?
Kierkegaard’s journalistic writings form a substantial part of his authorship. He engaged in famous personal battles with members of the Danish press, warned against the dangers of a press bent on promoting social conformity, extolled the extraordinary possibilities of newspapers, and variously reflected on the obligations of the journalist, the editor, the singular “newspaper reader,” and the broader reading public. Across his writings Kierkegaard can be seen as journalist, editor, editorialist, media critic, cartoon caricature, reader, anonymous contributor, and pamphleteer.
Kierkegaard’s journalistic engagement and the scholarship that has emerged from assessment of his writings form a substantial discursive plane for examining contemporary media concerns and a climate in which journalism and the expression of opinion are in crisis. Social media, more than just a vehicle for entertainment and interpersonal communication, have become means and sources for media reporting, debate, readership, and the circulation of unmediated misinformation. Anonymity, in the form of discussion boards and comment sections, has resulted in hate speech, bullying, despair, and even death, sometimes by suicide.
The new pressures on journalism and the journalists, and the new venues for the expression of public opinion, have implications and consequences that call for a reconsideration of Kierkegaard and his unique relationship to and commentary on newspapers and the press.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Deidre Green, Utah Valley University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Nigel Hatton, University of California, Merced1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Natalia Marandiuc, Southern Methodist University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Marilyn Piety, Drexel University1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Carson Webb, Piedmont College1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Eric Ziolkowski, Lafayette College1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026