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Kierkegaard, Religion, and Culture Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

Session One: “Kierkegaard and the Spiritualities of the Religiously Unaffiliated”


The unaffiliated, also termed Nones, are those who when asked about their religious identity or institutional affiliation check the box “none of the above.” Within this broad category exists the subgroup of the “Spiritual But Not Religious” who often make a sharp distinction between “spirituality” and “religion.” The lived spiritualities of Nones are characterized by a rejection of labeling, an openness to diversity, a high valuation of relationships, an understanding of the spiritual as taking place within life’s mundane spheres, a sense of being a “seeker,” and a prioritization of personal experience over tradition and external forms of authority. This session invites papers that put the spiritualities of those who can be classified as Nones into conversation with Kierkegaard’s writings on themes related to Christendom, the institutional church, the role of doctrine and tradition, the significance of the subjectivity of the single individual, and Religiousness A and Religiousness B. Proposals seeking to explore how Kierkegaard’s writings might offer both support for and critique of SBNR spiritualities are welcome. Proposals that explore the possibility of extra-institutional forms of Christianity in light of themes from Kierkegaard’s writings will also be appreciated.


Session Two: “Kierkegaard, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Traditions of Universal Salvation”


This is a joint session with the “Biblical Exegesis from Eastern Orthodox Perspectives” unit of the SBL Søren Kierkegaard sometimes gestured toward the universally efficacious power of God’s love even while he warned about the ultimate consequences of divine judgement. This joint session of the AAR and the SBL will explore Kierkegaard’s nuanced and unique treatment of the issue of universal salvation. Papers will explore various trajectories of Christian universalism, some of which formed the background of Kierkegaard’s thought. Attention will be given to the roots of universalism in certain features of the New Testament, its blossoming in the thought of patristic theologians like Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, and its re-emergence in the nineteenth century. Special attention will be given to echoes of these theological voices in

Kierkegaard’s work, as well as to their perpetuation in contemporary varieties of universalism.

Some speakers will be invited, while others will be chosen from an open call for papers.


Session Three: “Kierkegaard and the Construction of Masculinities”

This a joint session with the “Men, Masculinities, and Religions” unit of the AAR. This session invites papers exploring themes related to masculinity in Kierkegaard’s writings, including how depictions of masculinity vary among his pseudonyms and the authorial voices in his signed works, as well as the understanding of masculinity implied by his authorship as a whole. Proposals exploring the general construction of masculinities in nineteenth century northern Europe will be welcomed to provide an overview of the intellectual and cultural background of Kierkegaard’s writings. Proposals will also be appreciated concerning the ways that Kierkegaard’s constructions of masculinity and spirituality may inform, critique, expand, or reinforce conceptions of masculinity in contemporary culture.

Statement of Purpose

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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members