Syllabus for Roster(s):

  • 16F COLA 1500-046 (CGAS)
In the UVaCollab course site:   16F COLA 1500-046 (CGAS)

Course Description (for SIS)

The physicist (and amateur bongo-drum enthusiast) Richard P. Feynman once responded to a query asking after his beliefs in God and religion with this chestnut: “It doesn't seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil - which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.” Well, what kind of drama can be staged on such a set (or, forgive the pun, hyper-set of sets)? Or, how does one narrate our lives in any way that could allow us to make human meaning of such scales? Must meaning involve narrative? What does narrative have to do with “all these atoms with all their motions”?

We shall explore these questions, taking as our guide that modern masterpiece of droll understatement, perplexity, improbability and wonder, Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. We will take the absurdist tragi-comedy seriously. Well, not too seriously. We will ask about the place of the humanities, and the imagination, in a world very quickly outpacing both. We might have time to play the classic text-based game.