Eng 22, Fall 2017

Introduction to Literature and the Environment

This course is a sweeping survey of Western literature and culture from an environmental perspective. In much the same way that feminist critics are interested in literary representations of gender and women, ecological literary and cultural critics (or simply “ecocritics”) explore how our relationship to nature is imagined.  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 contemporary America’s 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 often 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 Myth of Gilgamesh*, this course will explore the often-ignored literary and cultural history of the natural world.

Note that this course will be substantially revised in 2018-19 in order to provide an introduction to the environmental humanities.


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

Average rating: 3.9 of 5 (♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent; ♣♣♣♣ Very Good; ♣♣♣ Good; ♣♣ Fair; ♣ Poor)

♣♣♣♣♣ Never thought I’d enjoy a literature class this much! Lectures and readings were interesting and the course exposed me to ideas I had never heard of. I am telling all my friends to take this class. P.S., Professor Hiltner is so nice and always took the time to answer my questions after class.

♣♣♣♣♣ Mr. Hiltner is an excellent professor who is obviously very knowledgeable in his field. This was a very interesting class unlike any English I’ve ever taken before. He mixes teaching with pictures and movies very well, making the class more engaging.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner goes above and beyond what’s taught in this course and really connects what we learn to today’s environmental changes. Has educated and inspired me on topics I never considered in the past and to be a better contributor to the environment. I love you!

♣♣♣♣♣ Truly an exciting journey through literature. Hiltner does a powerful job analyzing the works of past authors and connecting to reality today. Enjoyable English course!

♣♣♣♣♣ Having achieved a degree (PhD) from Harvard you would think that individual would be entitled to his agency. However, Professor Hiltner was one of the most kind and considerate Professors I’ve had at UCSB, has made me consciously think about the environment.

♣♣♣♣♣ Hiltner has extensive knowledge of the material and is passionate about the subject. I’ll encourage anybody interested in the betterment of the environment to take this class.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great professor! Actually lectures, not just reads off of PowerPoint. I considered going vegan, or even vegetarian and I looove meat. Have cut down on eating it though. He delivers the material in an interesting way. Love! 10/10 would recommend.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed this class. Hiltner really brought to light the environmental issues that are expressed in literature. He has also influenced an environmental consciousness.

♣♣♣♣♣ Thank you for your outstanding work. Your insight and knowledge on this subject was insightful. Your passion made for an engaging class. Keep up the stellar work. Cheers!

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hitlner was an excellent and engaging lecturer, and kept me interested in the subject material the entire time. Besides switching some of the documentaries, I would change very little about this class.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner taught a fantastic course!! It was amazing learning about environmental issues from a literary approach and this course has opened my eyes to a lot of what is going on.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very, very interesting material. Some readings are dense, but Professor makes it very clear and makes you understand completely. Loved this class, really opened my eyes and had great lessons.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is now one of my favorite lecturers at UCSB. He excels at keeping students interested and is a great, patient teacher.

♣♣♣♣♣ He was very interested in the content of the course and provided great analysis of the text. His tests are very fair and is open to hearing feedback on the test.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is extremely knowledgeable and well-read. The course is definitely eye-opening in that it considers the environmental implications of important works across history, a notion I had never considered before understanding this course.

♣♣♣♣♣ I thought the course was very interesting and impactful. It definitely gave me a new perspective on certain ancient texts and environmental issues. He was great at elaborating on details and relating concepts to modern day.

♣♣♣♣♣ With the Prezi to help us along with the lecture, this class was efficient in getting the vital information out as well as allowing us to dive deeper into our readings.

♣♣♣♣♣ Fascinating. The best part about the course is that the professor leaves us with many films and books to read if we are still interested after the class.

♣♣♣♣♣ Amazing class. Very intriguing. Great Professor. He really makes lecture memorable by connecting them to what is going on today. The films are very interesting. It was always a pleasure going to Friday’s class.

♣♣♣♣♣ Hiltner is very thorough and very passionate about the course and material. Highly recommended.

♣♣♣♣♣ Explains everything thoroughly and provides thorough information on what to expect in the course and of tests.

♣♣♣♣♣ He is a very good professor. He made me think about the environment in a new way. He seemed very knowledgeable and passionate for the subject which made me like the class more.

♣♣♣♣♣ I think a lot of people came into this class just wanting GE credits, but left with a genuine interest in environmental issues.

♣♣♣♣♣ I enjoyed the teaching style—it was very engaging, although lectures were long.

♣♣♣♣♣ Interesting/unique perspective on environmental issues through the lens of new historicism. I thoroughly enjoyed the material, however, the tone of Professor Hiltner’s voice and the general warmth in the lecture hall made staying awake challenging.

♣♣♣♣♣ The instructor was always prepared and organized. The lectures were easy to follow and  understand. Having a slideshow presentation greatly helped.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken is a great instructor! The material of the course was very interesting and felt relevant to life. PowerPoints (Prezi) could use some work: repetitive phrasing, etc. Midterm and final exams were strange, many people seemed to have concerns about the wording of the questions.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner was not very engaging with the students and often droned. However, he was very thorough, but very fast paced.

♣♣♣♣♣ He seemed very interested and inspired by the material, so he was easy to listen to. I learned a lot in this class and would recommend taking it.

♣♣♣♣♣ This was a good course that offered a new way to analyze literary works. Content and Professor was good.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great professor with incredible knowledge on the subject. Truly cares about the topics he teaches and a joy to listen to.

♣♣♣♣♣ The class was very informative and interesting. Use of movies plus readings made the class more relatable to modern times.

♣♣♣♣♣ The course further expanded my understanding of how literature and environmental issues are related.

♣♣♣♣♣ Hiltner is very thorough and passionate about the course and its subjects. Highly recommend.

♣♣♣♣♣ With the Prezi to help us along with the lecture, this course has provided all the information necessary to learn the topics, follow along in class as well as truly understand and dive deeper into lecture.

♣♣♣♣♣ Mr. Hiltner did a great job presenting quality information from a wide range in time. Obviously knew his own material very well and offered valuable evaluations. All information was easily accessible 24/7 online, and well put together Prezi.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very in depth discussion of readings and implications literature reflects on ways environment is treated. Answers questions thoroughly.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great course. I gained insight into a whole new subject and point of view in literature and the environmental movement.

♣♣♣♣♣ I loved his soothing voice and clear passion for the subject matter. Great slides, great course, great professor. 10/10.

♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent class to take 😊

♣♣♣♣♣ Amazing! Wonderful! Great!

♣♣♣♣♣ Keep doing what you’re doing! Interesting class!

♣♣♣♣♣ Very interesting material and lectures!

♣♣♣♣♣ Just wish my boy would speak up more.

♣♣♣♣♣ I wish professor can leave us more time on reading materials.

♣♣♣♣♣ Show slides more slowly. 😊

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken speaks very quietly.

♣♣♣♣♣ Passionate about subjects taught.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very timely and important class! Prof. is very knowledgeable and inspiring.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed the class, but it was a little boring. If you could jazz it up a bit that would be cool.

♣♣♣♣♣ Good Professor. Cares about what he does.

♣♣♣♣♣ Go Gilgamesh. Also give Baron a raise.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken was great!

♣♣♣♣♣ Best professor ever!

♣♣♣♣ Hiltner is well educated and passionate on the subject matter. The slides have some information I would deem unnecessary and not useful. Personally, I find the material a bit dry, but that is a personal issue. Hiltner is overall a great professor!

♣♣♣♣ It feels like he tries to make the questions on the midterm/final unnecessarily tricky so that students don’t write off the course as easy, but the readings are difficult and there is a lot of material already so I don’t think he should do this. Also could speak up more. He’s hard to understand even when sitting in front.

♣♣♣♣ As an environmental studies major, I really enjoyed the readings and seeing the environment from a historical perspective. Hiltner chose interesting content to teach! The movies are also interesting and impactful! He also speaks low sometimes. Too hard to hear from behind.

♣♣♣♣ I enjoyed this class and learned a lot about the environment. In the future, I would prefer a better explanation of what to look for in the films. For example, River and Tides didn’t make much sense until after we discussed it the following week.

♣♣♣♣ Interesting topic and Hiltner brings fresh perspective to the table. Tends to read off of slides, can get boring. iClicker seems kinda pointless. Readings are awesome!

♣♣♣♣ He’s very receptive to questions in lecture and will always explain topics/concepts we’re having trouble with. Topics lectured on and in the readings are appropriately tested on the midterm and final.

♣♣♣♣ I really think this class is amazing at making people be interested in helping the environment. I even started looking into vegetarianism after about 2 weeks. I just wish our Professor was more enthusiastic about everything we talk about and more engaging! I also like how the Prezi is a study guide.

♣♣♣♣ I found most of the readings and films to be interesting and relevant other than a few of the early English readings (which I missed some of…). Hiltner was a great instructor—would have a perfect score if there wasn’t a slight tendency to repeat ideas in slide lectures—but perhaps intentional emphasis. Otherwise, the course as a whole “scratched an itch” I had in regards to what kind of ideas existed and permeated throughout Western history/literature.

♣♣♣♣ The course was interesting, but the class tended to be a bit dry and boring. Sometimes. He’s very, very well knowledgeable about the subject.

♣♣♣♣ The professor was very passionate about the subject, which made the class more interesting.

♣♣♣♣ Smart and knowledgeable professor. Really interesting class but didn’t convince me to be vegetarian so I’m a little unimpressed.

♣♣♣♣ The information in this class was very relevant and useful to my life and in understanding the world around me.

♣♣♣♣ This course was very interesting but I wish it was a little more engaging. It can be easy to get distracted. The material and connections made were things I’ve never thought about before. I was eager to tell friends and family about things I’d learned. Ken is very smart and makes great points but is a bit monotone, making it easy to lose focus.

♣♣♣♣ The material is great and the class is taught almost as if moving through an argument, and I personally enjoy, but could feel too pointed for other students.

♣♣♣♣ I loved the course material of this class in terms of the topics we were tackling. I thought sometimes lectures were unnecessary convoluted, but loved Prof. Ken’s enthusiasm. Never stop showing the Lost. Loved it!

♣♣♣♣ Lectures could be a bit dry but overall interesting content and Hiltner clearly had an interest in the material and made me see it in a way I might not have otherwise.

♣♣♣♣ Lecture a bit boring sometimes as Dr. Hilter just talks off a Prezi the entire time, but he will answer questions students ask which is better than a lot of other professors. The iClicker points are a bit irritating and the movie days as well, but the midterm was really fair. Good class to take pass/fail. Content is somewhat interesting, 7/10.

♣♣♣♣ Great guy, very knowledgeable about the environment. Lectures could be a tad dry but that may be unavoidable. The class was graded fairly and I’m happy with my grade.

♣♣♣♣ Ken was cool. Didn’t love the content, but enjoyed the new perspective.

♣♣♣♣ Speak louder, repeat questions asked, be more enthusiastic.

♣♣♣♣ Lecture was too rooted in the slides. This class would gain immensely with a discussion section. Reading should always be discussed and this was lacking.

♣♣♣♣ At times moved kind of slow, but overall good teaching style.

♣♣♣♣ Instructor was good. Content of course not engaging or exciting.

♣♣♣♣ Talks very softly sometimes. Wish he had more iClickers.

♣♣♣♣ Write less on slides/talk louder. I like going over the readings in detail.

♣♣♣♣ Nice taking a class with a teacher who is passionate about their subject.

♣♣♣♣ Wish there were a discussion section to further interact with readings.

♣♣♣♣ Can have a better delivery during lecture, not so monotone and having more enthusiasm about subject.

♣♣♣♣ Instructor’s voice was monotone, many times lectures were not engaging.

♣♣♣♣ Maybe add a section to your class.

♣♣♣♣ Material presented well. Fair tests. Enjoyable movies.

♣♣♣♣ Just…kinda boring…Falling asleep…sorry, my fault.

♣♣♣♣ Seems to take attendance very personally. 20% attendance no good for chronic illness, 5-10% maybe? Amazing and talented lecturer, I mean it.

♣♣♣♣ Instructor provided a lot of commentary not on slides.

♣♣♣♣ Go a bit slower.

♣♣♣♣ I liked the course content, perhaps there is a more engaging way to present it.

♣♣♣♣ Better test prep.

♣♣♣♣ Very good, super knowledgeable.

♣♣♣♣ A bit quiet.

♣♣♣♣ Good job!

♣♣♣ He was fine all he needs to do is speak up. He starts off the sentence at a good volume then ends it very quietly. I like that we have films that should continue.

♣♣♣ This course is hard to be critical about as it has a challenging environment for the lecturer (Freshman in IV theatre). But, from an outside perspective, Professor Hiltner seems knowledgeable yet longwinded. It was hard to remain attentive with his level of enthusiasm along with other distractions. I felt like I was at a show at Sea World with barking sea lions. All in all: I learned something but only because I was personally involved/interested.

♣♣♣ The material was great but many times the instructor couldn’t be heard or went too fast through the PowerPoints, thus making it hard to follow and take notes.

♣♣♣ Class in itself is very interesting. Lecture/PowerPoint could be shortened/ more straightforward. A lot to take down all while trying to listen to lecture. Multiple choice tests could have less “all of the above”, “none of the above”; distracts/confuses from actual subject at hand.

♣♣♣ Course was often very repetitive and too slow. Several movies were informative and enjoyable, while two were boring, tedious, and noninformative. Readings were relevant and good. Overall a decent, but boring class.

♣♣♣ I very much enjoyed the content of the course. Slides are very wordy and not straight to the point. If possible, creating a section for this course would be beneficial.

♣♣♣ Monotone voice, needs to speak louder. The class could have been more interesting.

♣♣♣ Speak louder. You are tough to hear in the back. Also, so many errors on the slides. Let’s pick that up.

♣♣♣ Create notes or more of a discussion in the lecture. As over an hour long, you don’t want to drain the students out just talking and reading. Add a discussion section.

♣♣♣ Lecture notes were very thorough and helpful when studying, some readings seemed unnecessary with helping to gain understanding of the material. Overall, great class.

♣♣♣ Good analysis of material, but not very engaging. Texts often felt irrelevant, even after analysis.

♣♣♣ Very thorough lecture slides, but the material and the manner in which it was presented was very dry.

♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner speaks too quietly 70% of the time. You lose out on a lot of information this way. Please repeat questions when a student speaks—no one in the back can hear.

♣♣♣ Should make slides more interesting. Change up font or color? Turn up microphone (people in back can’t hear very well).

♣♣♣ Information could have been condensed into much shorter lectures and slides. Slides in paragraph formats were ineffective and distracted from lecture.

♣♣♣ I think he can improve by making the slides more interesting. Also, give us some more time to read the slide before discussing it.

♣♣♣ Interesting material. Boring to read. Sometimes boring lecture. Moves on Fridays GREAT.

♣♣♣ I think the class was good, but Hiltner was too monotone. Not the most captivating/interesting.

♣♣♣ I did not learn one important thing all quarter. Class sucks.

♣♣♣ He talked too softly, but overall the material was interesting.

♣♣♣ Boring. Redundant. Need more material. More engagement. Don’t ditch us on Friday for a movie.

♣♣♣ Interesting lectures; easy class; would be better if there was more engagement with students.

♣♣♣ Lecture very similar to the slides, not much additional content. I can read. However, the information was new and interesting to me and I enjoyed learning it.

♣♣♣ Some of the books read seemed a little too scientific and lost my interest super easily. The lectures were decent, but repetitive.

♣♣♣ Louder volume on mic; often struggled to hear. Course was interesting.

♣♣♣ Lecture is very hard to follow. Goes way too fast. Lecture slides are very packed with info—hard to follow.

♣♣♣ More interesting before midterm, kind of dry afterwards.

♣♣♣ A little more engaging lectures would be good.

♣♣♣ Instructor could be better and louder. This is a giant class. He seems like a basic old white male.

♣♣♣ Lecture is boring.

♣♣♣ Lectures is sometimes hard to stay engaged.

♣♣♣ Need to slow down.

♣♣♣ Hard to hear at times.

♣♣♣ Too quiet.

♣♣♣ Gilgamesh.

♣♣ This class was fairly intriguing. I feel the material had a potential to be more engaging however the course was not what I was expecting, to say the least. I wish you did NOT use Prezi and rather posted slides on GauchoSpace. I also think it would be beneficial to have weekly sections with a TA to engage more with the material. I also wish you would have read from the slides less and engaged with the class more! I appreciate your passion for the environment and veganism!!

♣♣ Sliders were way too long (had too many word(s)). This caused me to focus more on what was written on the slides rather than what Professor Hiltner was saying.

♣♣ Not a huge fan of Hiltner’s lectures. Often pauses to read own slides and slides have a lot of texts.

♣♣ Content was interesting, but presented in a very boring way. No interaction/ very long, PowerPoint slides. Prof. mumbles.

♣♣ I felt that the slides are too dense and not to the point enough. The instructor should make them shorter and speak louder to keep the crowd’s attention.

♣♣ Instructor could be louder/more clear/overall just better lmao.

♣♣ Lectures are very boring. Since it is not pertinent to my major, it’s harder to get involved with, and I wish you could make it more interesting for people like me.

♣♣ Instructor mumbles, can’t hear him for most of lecture, doesn’t speak up when asked to speak up. Very boring. Lecture slides not organized well. Too many words on slides; can’t type or understand at the same time.

♣♣ Speak louder. Your voice is very low so it’s hard to hear from the back. Repeat the questions from students so we can hear what question you are answering.

♣♣ Although lectures are very informative, they’re not very engaging. Hiltner just made it off of slides.

♣♣ Prof. Hiltner’s lectures are very boring. His voice is not clear and the mic sounds muffled so it is very easy to fall asleep.

♣♣ Slides are too boring visually. Monotone voice makes it difficult to learn.

♣♣ You could do all these lectures in 1/3 of the time.

♣♣ Very monotone voice which makes the lectures very boring.

♣♣ Lectures do not attract students.

♣♣ I wish you would speak louder.

♣♣ Lectures not interesting.

♣ Try not to repeat the same point in different wording for 30 minutes. It feels like the same sentence re-worded the whole class.

No rating Excellent lecturer. This course had reengaged the whole quarter as the mix of environmental issues and art go hand in hand. One of my favorite courses so far!

No rating Difficult to hear. I thought it would focus more on analysis of specific literature and how it relates and reflects the environment.

No rating The slide texts were a little wordy but the reading was relevant, interesting, and manageable. I felt like I actually learned something!

No rating Silent Spring is interesting, love it! Thoreau doesn’t have so much fun ☹ Interesting reading connected to the course, thank you!

No rating Professor Hiltner’s lectures can be dry, he also talks very quietly so sitting in the back can be difficult. Information is interesting though if you listen and do the readings.

No rating I LOVED this course! I found it so informative—not only about environmental issues, but about the human perspectives that caused these problems. Loved it!

No rating More visuals would help the learning experience.

No rating Can get very repetitive.