SKC Project Seminar

Dante Clementi

(University of St. Andrews)

"Kierkegaard’s Phenomenology of Upbuilding Reading: Literature, Religion, and Reader-Response Criticism"

In comparison with the pseudonymous writings, the literary features of Kierkegaard’s upbuilding discourses are not generally emphasized, a view that perhaps stems from their (apparent) direct mode of communication. However, a strand of commentary on these texts has sought to reestablish the importance of the discourses’ communication as literary and, importantly, as indirect in certain respects. While only occasionally emphasized by these commentators, the phenomenology of reading the discourses—that is, how the reader experiences them while reading—can further substantiate this alternative literary reading of how the discourses communicate, and moreover, can provide support for the stronger claim that the discourses upbuild their reader according to a kind of literary logic. Taking two of Kierkegaard’s late upbuilding discourses as examples—namely, An Upbuilding Discourse and The Lily in the Field and the Bird of the Air—the paper explores Kierkegaard’s phenomenology of upbuilding reading to argue for the claim that the discourses upbuild their reader in the reading process itself, that the reader is upbuilt in how the discourses shape the reader’s engagement with them, thereby providing additional support for the importance of the discourses’ literary features in upbuilding the reader.