Eng/ES 386, Fall 2012 (Princeton)

Theories of Literature and the Environment

Deforestation, air pollution, urban sprawl, endangered species, watershed loss, animal rights, rampant consumerism, and similar issues have been appearing as controversial in Western literature for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years. Consequently, if we wish to better understand our contemporary attitude toward the environment and how it emerged, its literary history is an excellent place to start. Beginning with one of the West’s earliest texts, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and ending with Rachel Carson and Michael Pollan, this course surveys the history of our relationship with our planet.

How would you describe the overall quality of the seminars? Please comment, as appropriate, on how well the instructor stimulated your curiosity and independent thinking, raised challenging questions, helped clarify course material, encouraged participation, and responded to students’ questions, opinions, and criticisms.

Average rating: 4.7 of 5 (♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent; ♣♣♣♣ Very Good; ♣♣♣ Good; ♣♣ Fair; ♣ Poor)

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken was possibly the best professor I have had at Princeton. He is knowledgeable, engaging, and very appreciative of student involvement. His attitude toward the class really encouraged participation during class, and made me actually want to do the readings (which is a bit unusual for me).

♣♣♣♣♣ Wonderful! I loved how the class was small and created a very open and comfortable discussion setting. Professor Hiltner provided very interesting information and thought-provoking questions while encouraging us to present our own questions and comments that allowed the conversation to flow into new and exciting areas.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great! Very engaged, good mix of focus on the text and class discussion, vast majority of class was discussion, encouraged contributions, but didn’t just smile and nod at everything everyone said (as in some humanities courses I have taken, where there is no wrong answer). Always very engaged.

♣♣♣♣♣ The seminars were great. Professor Hiltner did a great job leading conversations and making everyone feel comfortable commenting. He asked stimulating questions, both in class and in the video lectures, that really enhanced the course. I always felt that my comments were welcome and this made the class discussion extremely productive.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner put a lot of effort into this course and it showed! He made video lectures and slide shows for each piece we read. They were incredibly helpful in fleshing out our understanding before precept.

♣♣♣♣♣ The seminars were very interesting, and I liked the online seminars that were posted. Ken let us go on tangents and freely discuss the texts, which was cool. As we mentioned, it might have been good to have a discussion on blackboard before the lecture, so there would be greater involvement of the class, and to make sure that people read at least some of the text. Overall, I thought Ken was a great teacher and the class was very interesting.

♣♣♣♣ The seminars were well run. Professor Hiltner was very good at letting discussions develop while at the same time managing them and directing them.

Please comment on the overall quality of the course. What worked particularly well and in what ways might the course be improved?

♣♣♣♣♣ This was one of my favorite courses at Princeton. I learned a lot and always looked forward to class, where our class discussions were always challenging and engaging.

♣♣♣♣♣ This was one of my favorite courses at Princeton so far, and I definitely want to continue exploring my interest in the environment, possibly through other courses.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great course. I didn’t do the video lectures though, although I did all of the Prezi lectures. They took far less time and there was very little information in the video lecture that wasn’t in the Prezi lecture, so I don’t think they were necessary. Loved the mix of media and the focus on discussion. While at times I would have liked more reading, the limited amount also meant that I did all or almost all of the reading every week.

♣♣♣♣♣ The way the course was set up was perfect. I would actually like it if the class met three times a week for an hour and twenty instead of just two times. That way there would be more time. I felt as though some things were a bit rushed.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great course. We need more professors like Hiltner at Princeton.