Eng 122EN, Spring 2008

Introduction to Literature and the Environment

This course is an environmental survey of Western literature. In much the same way that feminist critics are interested in literary representations of gender and women, environmental critics explore how nature and the natural world are imagined through literary texts. As with changing perceptions of gender, such literary representations are not only generated by particular cultures, they play a significant role in generating those cultures. Thus if we wish to understand our contemporary attitude toward the environment, its literary history is an excellent place to start. While authors such as Thoreau and Wordsworth may first come to mind in this context, literary responses to environmental concerns are as old as the issues themselves. Deforestation, air pollution, endangered species, wetland loss, animal rights, and rampant consumerism have all been appearing as controversial issues in Western literature for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years. Starting with an excerpt from one of the West’s earliest texts, The Epic of Gilgamesh, this course will explore the often-ignored literary history of the natural world. This course satisfies the requirements of the Undergraduate Specialization in Literature and the Environment (USLE).

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

Average rating: 4.5 of 5 (♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent; ♣♣♣♣ Very Good; ♣♣♣ Good; ♣♣ Fair; ♣ Poor)

♣♣♣♣♣ TA was overkill– gave way too many quizzes/assignments for a 9 a.m. Friday section. Class itself was good. Don’t change it.

♣♣♣♣♣ Thank you!

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor was always very well organized and his lectures were complimented nicely with very informative slide shows.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great material but the relation to the nature and the environment was too broad.

♣♣♣♣♣ Those poems are very hard to understand. A handout describing the plot, etc. would be very helpful.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very interesting insight.

♣♣♣♣♣ The class was really well put together and the lecture style was really good. I wish the focus on poetry could have extended, however slight, into the post-midterm period instead of just turning to novels/books. No lecture on Dylan Thomas?

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken Hiltner’s lectures are precise and to the point. They contain good use of the media that makes the context of the course more interesting.

♣♣♣♣♣ A wonderful, stimulating course. Professor Hiltner was very well organized in his presentation of material and made insightful and thought-provoking connections between the readings. The midterm was challenging but fair.

♣♣♣♣♣ This course was amazing, it was a lot of work but I don’t think he demanded anything of us that was out of line. All the knowledge/info made me understand the material better. It changed my life and caused me to develop a sincere environmental consciousness.

♣♣♣♣♣ This course was interesting. I have received more out of this course then I wanted. I had an awareness about our environment that I have never paid any attention to. I appreciate this course and think that it was awesome.

♣♣♣♣♣ Even though I wasn’t really interested in the topic, I thought that Professor Hiltner was a really good lecturer and very passionate about the subject. The readings were often times overwhelming, but he explicated them in a more approachable way.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really liked the slides, they made it easier to remember the key concepts and by having them on email we could listen to what the professor was saying too.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed how Professor Hiltner thoroughly explained all the readings. He went into great detail and helped you understand what was important.

♣♣♣♣♣ A wonderful course, one of the best I’ve taken so far. I really enjoyed the approach of new historicism. I was impressed with the way difficult topics like religion were dealt with without becoming insulting as I’ve seen in so many classes. The topic and readings were both fascinating and I would gladly have read even more. Thank you for a wonderful course and quarter.

♣♣♣♣♣ Content and teaching method was really good and clear. Lectures at times a little too crammed, a lot of information to take in. Class really expanded my understanding of environmental history through literature. Being an Environmental Studies major it helped a lot.

♣♣♣♣♣ The class was extremely rewarding. It not only gave me a good understanding of environmental issues, but also a strong grasp of literary criticism and new historicism. Professor Hiltner’s lectures were engaging, simple and fun.

♣♣♣♣♣ The series of poems were in large part rushed through in lecture, and a lot of time was spent on Walden and Silent Spring I feel that more time should be spent on the poetry, as it is the most difficult area to understand.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner did a wonderful job teaching this course. I felt that the readings were very interesting and the syllabus was well thought out. His lectures were also very engaging and extremely well prepared/organized. He truly seems interested in the subject matter. I am sorry the class has to come to an end.

♣♣♣♣♣ I enjoyed the course because it never really occurred to me that these works could be interpreted from an environmental standpoint. I thought the lectures slides were great and very helpful. Definitely very surprised to see a professor that is very in touch with current culture.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken was a very effective lecturer. He listened to and gauged the class extraordinarily well. I enjoyed the multimedia aspects of the class – it made the subject material more accessible and dynamic. Suggestion: Not so much information on the midterm and final – maybe add a 3rd essay instead.

♣♣♣♣ Lecture slides were helpful and effective, they allowed me to pay close attention to the material and absorb information during lecture.

♣♣♣♣ Inspiring, thought provoking lectures. Well-organized and very helpful. Enjoyed the art and the must incorporated. Friendly and approachable.

♣♣♣♣ An expert at his subject and sought to teach information to the best of his ability.

♣♣♣♣ Pretty interesting, the movies were a good teaching tactic.

♣♣♣♣ I really liked this class. It gave me a better understanding of nature.

♣♣♣♣ Very interesting course.

♣♣♣♣ The TA (not Liberty) needs to face forward! Good lectures, interesting materials. Midterm way too specific!

♣♣♣♣ Powerpoints would have been better if they were less repetitive and more concise.

♣♣♣ The teacher, overall, is a good teacher, but there could be more visual aids.

♣♣♣ Fair enough – but class based on hermeneutics. You can almost see what you want to see. Didn’t learn much but I did well. Little to complain about.

♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is a good professor who is responsive to his students, however, the course material and the way in which it was presented were not very exciting.

♣♣ Lectures – ok.

Unrated Awesome class. I enjoyed it a lot.

Unrated Great class. Great teaching style/great professor/great TA. I loved it!

Unrated I liked writing the notes better than printing it out. It made me concentrate more.

Unrated I appreciate Professor Hiltner’s ability to work with the class to determine the best lectures style for the class. He is incredibly well spoken and enunciates his ideas very clearly in lecture. Overall, a very enlightening course.

Unrated I enjoyed lecture and the format. Thank you.

Unrated I loved Professor Hiltner. Some of the readings were difficult but he helped me understand them very well.

Unrated I enjoyed this class, but wish it would have more focus on more current environmental works, such as Silent Spring. I also felt that lecture could be less dense so that students are better able to retain information.