Eng 22, Spring 2015

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.

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

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

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed this class! I learned so many things from an environmental perspective. The readings were a bit hard, but lectures made them very coherent and I loved how the professor carried out interesting discussions. The passion for environmental issues you have was obvious. Thank you so much. I enjoyed coming to this class.

♣♣♣♣♣ I think the teaching and lectures were great, very interesting and engaging. Some of the texts were hard to get through but the lectures were very insightful. The course itself was great in context but I did not like the way it was set up with an online section because people did not take it seriously and contribute often and I felt like discussion was lost that way which could have been interesting and helped with understanding of the readings.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is very intelligent, insightful, and passionate. Best of all, he strives to pass these trains on to his students and succeeds. Upon looking at his C.V. and seeing his Ph.D from Harvard, I was not surprised at all.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner did a great job this quarter, his lectures were really investing and he really went into detail explaining/discussing the literary works with respect to the environment. This was truly an eye opening course and I’m glad I took it. He is very smart.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great class to raise environmental consciousness for those people who show up to lecture and get to hear the class discussions. Opened my eyes to environmental issues! Thanks for a great class and life changing way to look at life. 🙂

♣♣♣♣♣ This course was incredible. The information was captivating and presented in a chronological and geographical way that explains the spread and development of environmental consciousness. The class literally changed my life, and the professor was one of the most inspiring and educational people I’ve ever met.

♣♣♣♣♣ The course itself was extremely insightful. The combination of literature and environmental effects is an effective way of communicating environmental issues.

♣♣♣♣♣ Inspirational, well-spoken teacher. He does a great job of involving students with the material, though inevitably you will determine your level of involvement. This course is insightful if you are willing to allow it to be.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very clear, explained thoroughly! I really enjoyed the material and how easy Ken laid everything out. Makes you think differently.

♣♣♣♣♣ The instructor was very helpful and learned on the subjects that he taught. The works that were in the class were very interesting.

♣♣♣♣♣ The readings are sometimes hard to understand, but the lectures are great at expanding on topics and guiding the focus. Very insightful/educational class.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very intelligent guy. Open to all student’s opinions. Overall good professor and well taught. Knowledgeable man!

♣♣♣♣♣ I really liked how the instructor would discuss with the students during lecture. It really helped me to learn a lot on the topic.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very interesting course that revealed connections that I had never noticed between some of the most popular pieces of literature and the way we look at the environment.

♣♣♣♣♣ Really great teacher; cared about his students and very open-minded.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very knowledgeable about subject material. Lots of encouragement for participation.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken Hiltner is an awesome English professor with a sound understanding of the material. His course was very enjoyable & informational.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very insightful, engaging teacher. Can’t say anything bad, except I e-mailed him one time and he didn’t respond.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed this course and learned so much about the environment and se the world with a new perspective. I really liked a lot of the readings that were assigned.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed this class and its material. I also loved that Ken showed us other opportunities – both which we could further explore and deepen our interests in the environment. I also really loved that he provided a lot of connections back to his other works and comparisons, which really helped provide me a deeper, fuller understanding of both his class and his teachings. Definitely take this class!!!

♣♣♣♣♣ This course was very impacting and well constructed with the use of powerful readings and films. This course not only educated me as a person but also changed me. 🙂

♣♣♣♣♣ Instructor – approachable, articulate and knowledgeable. Use of slides is great and helpful – organized.

♣♣♣♣♣ This instructor gave interesting and insightful lectures. He communicated the material very clearly, and encouraged meaningful class discussion. The required reading material is fascinating and diverse.

♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent organization and composition of course. I loved all the reading elections and how they wove together. The discussion integrated into lecture was always interesting.

♣♣♣♣♣ Thanks for the awesome quarter. This is a great class and I hope the literature and the environment courses continue to develop and grow. Ken Hiltner is truly an amazing professor. I recumbent his classes to all students.

♣♣♣♣♣ Wish the sections were a little more structured, but the texts presented in the reader were very insightful and the lectures definitely helped in developing the major concepts of the course. Really enjoyable overall, and a new perspective of the environment and literature was achieved.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is an excellent professor. He is very passionate about the subject and knows it very well.

♣♣♣♣♣ This was a fantastic course. As an environmental studies major I feel like I have gained a vital understanding of my discipline’s foundation that I hadn’t even realized I was missing.

♣♣♣♣♣ This class was great and one of the few classes that has really opened my eyes. I know this class will make me think in new ways when I take courses here at UCSB.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very interesting material, taught well + enthusiastically.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very organized lectures; loved that the slides were online!

♣♣♣♣♣ I’m still not convinced historical literature helps understand current environmental problems.

♣♣♣♣♣ This has been very informative, however readings can be a bit dry at times.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner, you are a great professor. Thank you.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great class, but the two hour lecture format is a bit grueling. I would have preferred a 75 minute lecture 3 times a week or something. Otherwise, great.

♣♣♣♣♣ Prof. Hiltner presents thought-provoking arguments about our environment through important, classical pieces of literature and media. Great, inspirational lectures!

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner inspired. He made me excited to attend class. I have a much better appreciate for nature because of this class. Thanks!

♣♣♣♣♣ Awesome class, love the style and organization of Professor Hiltner’s lectures. Kept interested through whole class. Some readings were very boring, often even very hard to read/understand.

♣♣♣♣♣ This should be required for all ES majors. There is little use in learning about these issues if we cannot communicate them clearly.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner was very thorough in his lectures and they were always interesting. He really cares about the students and overall it is a good course as long as you read.

♣♣♣♣♣ I have been properly exposed to essential literature.

♣♣♣♣ I liked this class, but 5-7 p.m. is way too long and it’s late so that’s why a lot of people skip. Also, please take attendance because my friend got a higher grade than me on the midterm and hasn’t come to lecture in 6 weeks.

♣♣♣♣ Very intelligent and thought provoking class. Pulled environmental allusions out of texts that didn’t seem to be environmental, which made the course extremely interesting. As an instructor, he had a great grip on the material and knew exactly what he was doing, very knowledgeable.

♣♣♣♣ The lectures were very repressive and a bit too long … would have been more effective if the were only 50 minutes, or even an hour fifteen minutes, rather than nearly 2 hours.

♣♣♣♣ A bit too monotone, maybe can sound more enthusiastic about the course lecture. Goes a bit too quickly on the slides as well. Slow down, maybe?

♣♣♣♣ I can see Professor Hiltner is really interested in the environment. Learned a lot.

♣♣♣ I liked the themes of the class, but I found some of the material a little repetitive.

♣♣ Good ideas, unnecessary emphasis on surface-level analysis. A bit repetitive and tiresome. Interesting material. Good potential.

♣♣ Lectures were a bit dull. Some of the readings were interesting. Grading was fair, but midterm was a bit confusing.

♣ Lecture much too long for surface-level discussions/lecture. Content had good potential, but wasn’t thoroughly analyzed. I felt as if the class had no depth to it. Lecture slides seemed like sentences pull straight from a very repressive essay. The same points were made over and over again with no real substance or indication of going deeper. All in all: too repetitive, too surface-level, too lengthy of a lecture time.

Unrated, Ken Hiltner is one of the best English professors that I have come across. His English 22 lectures are very interesting and thought-provoking. Having been to every lecture, I must say he makes you look forward to this course. The midterm is fair and I hope I have a chance to take his courses again in the future.

Unrated, This class definitely encouraged me to do something for the environment, to call for change. Take this class and change the world for the better.

Unrated, Great class! I definitely learned a lot!

Unrated, Discussion in lecture could be dry and boring.

Unrated, [Student-drawn picture of a tree] This is a poorly drawn tree, in honor of how great this class was!