Eng 101, Summer 2016

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 using the following scales”

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

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor, though I put off taking medieval literature until the last possible moment, thinking that it would be dull and monotonous, I have been pleasantly surprised. I have enjoyed your teaching style and your engagement with the texts and with us students. When dealing with old (fairly offensive) mostly male writers, it is refreshing to have a teacher that is looking through an environmental and feminist lens! Thank you for listening.

♣♣♣♣♣ Extremely thought-provoking questions, made class readings interesting and relevant to modern issues in ways I’ve never seen another Professor do. I learned a lot about the value of literature to the study of humanity. An excellent experience!

♣♣♣♣♣ Overall good professor! He’s truly passionate about this topic! Recommend him.

♣♣♣♣♣ He is very clear and knowledgeable about the subject. It’s very helpful that he is approachable. The discussion questions were extremely beneficial.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very interesting topics of discussion. I personally enjoyed the group discussions for each major section. It allowed for a broader understanding of the material.

♣♣♣♣♣ It was a good class. Being in summer, there was a large amount of reading per night, but then again the course is only 6 weeks. I think the most difficult part was my lack of innate knowledge of history at the time of work read. But it was decent.

♣♣♣♣♣ Well explained, thought out class structure. Enabled critical thinking of literature in a way I’ve never experienced in any other class. Would recommend.

♣♣♣♣♣ Thank you for making the class so interesting! Really loved it!

♣♣♣♣♣ I enjoyed the class and appreciated the breadth of texts and authors discussed.

♣♣♣♣♣ Solid class. A bit dry. 44/48.

♣♣♣♣ I liked Professor Hiltner a lot. He was always approachable and helpful, also outside of class. He really wants his students to succeed.

♣♣♣♣ Contents of the course were fascinating, loved seeing the formation of the English language through literary and historical scope, and I appreciated Professor Hiltner’s style of instruction.

♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed the material we read in this course. I think including various class activities besides discussion would improve the class.