Fall 2023


Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-104


Jaeyoon Park (Section 01)


In this course we read selections from some classic works of existentialism, including texts by Søren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus. Existentialism is a tradition of philosophy and literature that flourished in mid-twentieth-century Europe. Its central theme is the ambivalence of human freedom. Freedom, for the existentialists, is our most prized possession, and what gives meaning to our existence. Yet it is also a source of anguish, for ours is a radical, and frightening, freedom: we have to act in the absence of fixed moral standards; we ourselves choose not just how but whether to live. We will study how this theme develops in the writings of the founding existentialists. Students are invited, of course, to draw out other themes from their works.

This course emphasizes close reading and precise analysis. It will help students learn how to break down complex texts and speak clearly about them.

Limited to 16 students. Open to first year students only. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Park.

How to handle overenrollment: Dean handles this.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work, analytic reading, class discussion.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Basic Writings of Existentialism Modern Library Gordon Marino Amherst Books TBD
Nausea New Directions (2013) Jean-Paul sartre Amherst Books TBD
The Plague: a New Translation by Laura Marris Vintage (2022) Albert Camus, translated by Laura Marris Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022Other years: Offered in Fall 2023