A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Night Vale: Absurdity, Existentialism, and New Media

Satisfies the requirement for English 1A, a general introduction to reading strategies that focuses on narrative, descriptive, and expository writing. 


English 1A is designed to teach students to read and write stories that are meaningful, both in terms of personal and real-world significance. But what is meaning, and how do we find it? These are the questions the existentialists asked, and we can use their answers to make traditional English class skills relevant to today’s techno-centric world and job market.

In this class, we will turn to a variety of materials, both old and new, to engage with storytelling and meaning-making in multiple ways. We’ll use traditional Existentialist and Absurdist philosophers to help us read Douglas Adams’s hilarious and impeccably-written novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—an interesting and meaningful story that, in all its absurdity, prompts us to really think about how writing and language make a story interesting and meaningful. We’ll also apply what we learn each week to auditory storytelling, via the intellectually complex podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and reflect on our thinking and writing through mixed-media posts on a class Tumblr site. This hybrid traditional/digital experience allows learners of all kinds (audio, visual, interactive, and more) to create our own meanings, and take responsibility for our own educational experiences.

The students speak: click here to read anonymous course evaluations from students.