Eng 101, Summer 2014

English Literature: the Medieval Period to 1650

This course is an introduction to the first eight hundred years of English literature from the Anglo Saxon beginnings to the 1645 edition of Milton’s Poems. After surveying some very early works, such as the Dream of the Rood, we will read Beowulf, one of the greatest epics in the English language, in Seamus Heaney’s exquisite translation. From there we will move to excerpts from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales before concluding in the Renaissance with Milton and Marvell. Throughout the quarter we will be considering just what these texts can tell us about the cultures that produced them, especially their attitudes toward gender, politics, religion, and the environment. What, for example, might “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” tell us about the position of women in Chaucer’s England? Similarly, does the Dream of the Rood, which is–quite remarkably–told in part from the perspective of a tree, tell us anything about how nature and the natural world was imagined?

“Please rate the overall quality of the instructor’s teaching”

Average rating: 4.9 of 5 (♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent; ♣♣♣♣ Very Good; ♣♣♣ Good; ♣♣ Fair; ♣ Poor)

♣♣♣♣♣ Prof. Hiltner was a helpful and very thorough professor. He always was open to help and his class was very though-provoking and enjoyable. Thanks for everything!

♣♣♣♣♣ I enjoyed the class immensely. The only issue was the full class periods for group discussion; I found it was too much time and conversations always digressed.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is awesome. Turns a typically boring and terrible (at least to the modern ear) literature and makes it interesting. Very nice, always willing to help. Will read anything you send him in advance, which is a major plus. Highly recommend this professor to my friend. Also has a great reading voice, should do audio books.

♣♣♣♣♣ A fantastic lecturer. Very thorough, engages students, answers questions. Enjoyable discussions and detailed group work that made us think critically about the texts.

♣♣♣♣♣ The discussion sheets were a really good way to get a handle on tough material.

♣♣♣♣♣ Hiltner is awesome, funny, and crazy smart. Thank you for a badass learning experience.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed this course. Professor Hiltner did a great job teaching the material, but the class is a little less structured. It’s based solely on lecture, which I enjoyed. The materials were great. I think I’m leaving the class as a much more competent English student.

♣♣♣♣♣ As a Bio major I wasn’t expecting the class to be entertaining for me but Professor Hiltner did a very good job at explaining the complicated writing in a way that made sense to me.

♣♣♣♣♣ Thank you for making this class interesting and full of new information. I learned a lot about English literature and the motives behind each authors’ writing. Hopefully you will be the instructor of one of my future English classes.

♣♣♣♣♣ When signing up for a class that included literature from Old and Middle English traditions, I was worried that the material would be difficult to understand and, quite frankly, boring. Professor Hiltner’s incredible knowledge about all the works we read and his clear, concise lecture style made the class and subsequent readings clear, interesting, & fun.

♣♣♣♣♣ Texts not very exciting, but did a great job at explaining and making easy to understand. Very detailed lectures.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner’s class made Medieval literature much more interesting than it would have been if taught by anyone else. Classes were discussion based which was helpful for collaboration with classmates, and while the material was not my primary interest. The course was not dry.

♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent! I loved the no-pressure feel of the class. Discussion questions were great, too! Fair midterm and final, as long as someone studies, they will do well.

♣♣♣♣♣ Fantastic Prof. Super involved. Very demanding, but fair. Good, well-taught class.

♣♣♣♣♣ Prof. Hiltner is extremely knowledgeable about Medieval lit., and he made lectures and discussion enjoyable. I liked having time to discuss works in small groups before going over them as a class. Some of the reading felt like busy work since we didn’t go over all of it in class. Very fair midterm.

♣♣♣♣♣ Provided through analysis and historical context. His approach to the readings established an engaging environment.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner’s class was enjoyable because he made Medieval Literature have certain 21st-century implications. There were comparisons about race, gender, and the environment that made us think critically about the work and whether or not cultural norms have shifted.

♣♣♣♣♣ One of my top three favorite professors at UCSB – and this is my penultimate quarter. Engaging, organized, wonderful approach, and demeanor. Class is very well structured and always runs smoothly. Professor knows how to respond in a relevant, respectful manner. THANK YOU!

♣♣♣♣♣ Very approachable and insightful! The class is made in a manner that doesn’t overwhelm the student after reading such foreign texts. Two things I found helpful were the discussion groups and the individual meeting. So much more discussion happens in smaller groups and as a result more ideas are voiced.

♣♣♣♣ Overall, the class was interesting and educational. Hiltner did a good job in leading discussion and making the material relevant to the classes’ own interests.

♣♣♣♣ It may have been because it was summer, but there was a major lack of class participation. One way that you could fix this is instead of asking the vague questions, “thoughts?” or “what do you make of this?”, you could ask more specific questions like, “What makes the Wife of Bath a good character,” or, specifically refer to a single theme or event in the text.

Unrated, Prof. Hiltner was a very engaging, interesting lecturer. Despite the drab course material, he made the texts interesting by relating them to prevalent social issues and topics to relate to. He is very knowledgable and I hope to take another course by him in the future.