Eng 162, Spring 2008

Milton and Ecology

When confronted with the description of a literal dark cloud of air pollution hanging over Coketown in Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times, many readers are immediately persuaded not only that our current environmental crisis has its roots in the nineteenth century, but that it was clearly making its appearance in the literature of the day. However, turn the clock back two centuries, to Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton, and many of the same readers are remarkably resistant to the notion that the roots of the crisis could reach back so far–at least with respect to issues such as urban air pollution. Nonetheless, air pollution, acid rain, deforestation, endangered species, wetland loss, animal rights, and rampant consumerism were all issues of great concern in Renaissance England. In this course we will consider a range of Milton’s works, including Paradise Lost, against the backdrop of these environmental issues. Just for fun, we will also be looking at excerpts from two very popular series of books that were profoundly influenced by Milton: The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (who was in fact a Milton scholar at Oxford) and His Dark Materials, especially The Golden Compass, by Phillip Pullman. (Incidentally, “His Dark Materials” is a quote fromParadise Lost.) 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: 5 of 5 (♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent; ♣♣♣♣ Very Good; ♣♣♣ Good; ♣♣ Fair; ♣ Poor)

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken is an amazing professor that encourages students to constantly strive for a deeper understanding of the material.

♣♣♣♣♣ Enjoyed lectures and extra material like Narnia and dark materials.

♣♣♣♣♣ Discussions really contributed to deeper understanding of course readings.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very engaging class, sheets were nice but often wished for more discussion

♣♣♣♣♣ Great instructor – knows about everything and leads an inspired discussion.

♣♣♣♣♣ The instructor was extremely knowledgeable about the material and really got me interested/excited about the material. I like how the course was divided into lecture and discussion class. Great course! Thank you! Ken is the best!

♣♣♣♣♣ As one of the few students without a strong English background I was a bit intimidated the first few weeks of class, but the teaching style of discussion mixed with small groups brought me out of my shell and by the end of the class I felt I was on a level playing field.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken is an excellent professor. One of the best I have had at UCSB. He involves everyone to make it more enjoyable. He comments/reacts positively to every student’s comments making it easier to want to speak in class. He also saved my life by teaching English 101 as an English 199. Now I can graduate without taking summer school!

♣♣♣♣♣ I would say that professor Hiltner renewed my faith in the English department through this course, but he did that in 122 already. Milton isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I don’t like poetry and I’m kind of weary about analytically discussing my faith. However, professor Hiltner is an amazing teacher and I would recommend this course to anyone. By far my favorite teacher at UCSB.

♣♣♣♣♣ The only thing I have to say is that I am grateful I finished my UCBS experience with professor Hiltner’s course! UCB made a great move in bringing professor Hiltner from Harvard. Excellent professor!

♣♣♣♣♣ I loved the way he learned our names. It really fostered discussions. The small group discussion and then review as a class because it made sure that everyone knew the answer and was more willing to participate – made for a great discussion. Allows everyone’s point of view – doesn’t put anyone down. Could use fewer, more compact questions. Because of multiple questions on each one, might actually have around 30 actual questions in 5 “official questions.” I would love to take another class from him.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken is great but the questions were a little overwhelming. The questions are very helpful, but I’d like more of a lecture.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great professor! Always helpful and very knowledgeable.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great stuff. Hooray for Milton.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is one of the best professors I’ve had at UCSB. He is knowledgeable, helpful, and a truly gifted teacher. I very much enjoyed this course, and I was particularly interested in the environmental aspects of this course.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great course. Really liked adding Pullman and C.S. Lewis. Wish we could have done more. Thanks for a great final quarter. This was my last English course ever.

♣♣♣♣♣ The class was very stimulating. Having weekly small group discussions helped cement the ideas being presented. Thank you for a great last quarter!

♣♣♣♣♣ Thanks for an extremely interesting class! I appreciate you meeting with us and getting to know us. Great job!

♣♣♣♣♣ Great job. This has been my favorite English class I have taken at UCSB thus far. Thanks for an awesome quarter!

♣♣♣♣♣ Great course. Ken has an enormous amount of understanding on the material.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken Hiltner is an amazing instructor with an incredible amount of knowledge. An asset to the English department.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great professor who knows his subject well!

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is very knowledgeable on his subject material and he is a very engaging professor. Great class.

♣♣♣♣♣ I loved this class. The discussion questions are super helpful and interesting. The class is interesting but not too hard and awesome.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great class!

♣♣♣♣♣ Great class!

♣♣♣♣♣ Wonderful class!

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken is a fantastic new asset to UCSB’s English department. I regret being a senior and being unable to pursue the emphasis in literature and ecology. As a CCS Lit Major, Ken is also a great ambassador for encouraging more cooperation between CCS and English departments. We hope you’ll share him!