Eng 165EM, Winter 2010

Early Modern Limits of the Human

Cloning, organ farms, the completion of the Human Genome Project, recombinant DNA, cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and other manufactured life forms, all suggest that, depending on one’s point of view, the twenty-first century opens onto a horizon of radical possibilities for the future or cataclysmic demise of the human. Our course takes the 2009-2010 Early Modern Center Theme, “The Limits of the Human,” to turn back to the early modern period and ask: before we were posthuman, how did we become human? How do early modern representations of monsters, anomalies, race, gender, automata define what is human and separate out what is not? What innovations in technology, botany, labor equipment, law, and mathematical notation helped to calcify the boundaries of the human? How did Cartesian, Newtonian and Leibnizian systems of the world shape the conditions that Michel Foucault argues, “made it possible for the figure of man to appear?” In what ways were the “limits” always permeable and did they invite transgression and mutation? We will use this course as a forum to explore these and many other questions relevant to the historical formation of the category: human.

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

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

♣♣♣♣♣ Great course material and very well organized class. Professor was extremely knowledgeable and always available for help outside of class.

♣♣♣♣♣ The professor was extremely helpful in terms of providing insightful information of the course. He was available all the time for help and showed great interest in answering students’ needs.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken Hiltner is the best professor at UCSB. You can really tell he knows what he’s talking about. He’s always available to talk or help with papers and encourages going to office hours which is something not many professors do. I hope to take more clases with him come Fall Quarter.

♣♣♣♣♣ Fantastic course, definitely one of my favorites I have ever taken in college. I wouldn’t change a thing. Ken is awesome and very educated and did a great job.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken Hiltner is very educated and very good at explaining his subject. He is an amazing teacher and really reaches out to students.

♣♣♣♣♣ Thank you for all your wonderful and thought-provoking feedback. I appreciated your knowledge and the challenging questions you proposed to us. I loved the class! I hope more classes are structured like this for future students.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great professor, friendly and knowledgeable. Made the material seem simple and made sense of the confusing idea of limits of the human.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken was extremely knowledgeable and also approachable which made it easier to feel like points you had to make were welcomed and valid.

♣♣♣♣♣ Thorough, knowledgeable, cooperative, a worthy individual of his field!

♣♣♣♣♣ I appreciated his ability to make abstract/difficult concepts understood by all (especially those who are not English majors). I liked the format of the course

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken is one of the best professors I have had at UCSB. His insight and willingness to work with students make his classes intriguing, challenging and amazing!

♣♣♣♣♣ The topics presented in the class were very interesting and the class as a whole was great. I enjoyed coming to class and I think this class should be offered again. As a professor you did very well, you were accessible for office hours and easy to talk to and understand. I took this class only because I enjoyed your previous one dealing with the environment.

♣♣♣♣♣ I had a lot of fun in this class. Both professors were really interested in the material and made this class very enjoyable, and the way it was structured was great.

♣♣♣♣♣ Overall great professor, really made me feel comfortable talking to him at office hours. Shortly, I appreciated how he picked up an argument from students that was well developed. It made me want to be more engaged because I didn’t feel like I was wrong or that my argument was wrong.