Eng/Es 122LE, Fall 2011

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) and is cross-listed with the Environmental Studies Department.

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

Average rating: 4.6 of 5 (♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent; ♣♣♣♣ Very Good; ♣♣♣ Good; ♣♣ Fair; ♣ Poor)

♣♣♣♣♣ LOVED the class—great mixture of different literary works. Great how there were both movies and lectures and books to read. Introduced me to many ideas I’ve never thought about and new books to read to expand my knowledge.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed the course. The grade breakdown was good and it kept every part of the course important. Tests and essay prompts were very fair. Lecture notes before class were very much appreciated—I printed them all out and kept them in a folder. I added my own comments during lecture—I’ve never been so organized!! You made a conscious effort to not read directly from the slides this quarter, but I personally would have liked more reading. The slides have really good information on them and sometimes I need to hear it out loud. I really like the movie choices and I wish we had time to see the ending of all of them. Overall, great course. Great choice for a non-English major. We were given every opportunity to learn and succeed.

♣♣♣♣♣ AMAZING! So glad I decided to take this class. Well worth it.

♣♣♣♣♣ This is a very well-structured, informative and valuable course. Ken Hiltner is a charismatic and engaging speaker whose knowledge about the topic is admirable and humbling.

♣♣♣♣♣ This is one of the best courses I’ve taken at UCSB so far. It inspired me to look at literature from a different point of view and Professor Hiltner’s lectures were always very interesting and his ideas were extremely clear. I would definitely recommend this course to my peers.

♣♣♣♣♣ This was a fabulous class! Perhaps the best I’ve taken at UCSB. The material and readings were wonderful, relevant and interesting. Best part of class was Prof. Hiltner. I’ve been amazed at how thorough his knowledge is, how smart he is, and what a great lecturer he is. How he presents slides and their format is the best I’ve seen and so clear. He’s the best prof. at UCSB I’ve met. Awesome. You should give him a raise. He deserves it.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great class! I really enjoyed it.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken is hands down the best professor I have ever had! He shows extreme enthusiasm and interest in the subject material. Never before have I been so motivated to attend lecture and master the course material. I will try to take as many classes with Ken as possible. LOVE HIM!!

♣♣♣♣♣ Clear lectures, no confusion on aspects of the course, interesting lectures, give him a raise!

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is an exceptional instructor. He has mastered the art of captivating his student’s attention and successfully disseminates complicated literary and environmental concepts. (The only downfall of this course was my section).

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is a really great instructor and he seems to care greatly about the subject matter and the students.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very enjoyable course. Great, interesting lectures. However, there was a lot of poetry that was hard to grasp.

♣♣♣♣♣ Well set-up course! I felt that I’ve learned a lot!

♣♣♣♣♣ I thought this was a great course with incredibly interesting reading. I really thought Hiltner’s ability to relate the class to our own lives was unique, as I have trouble applying some classes to real life. Essentially, he not only gave us a reason to care about doing well in the class, but how we could take such methods with us into the world after we graduate. I thought the use of modern examples was also great and kept the class interesting. He was also very accommodating and prompt in responding to emails.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed the lectures. I felt that it was really helpful to print out the lectures and take notes on them while he was lecturing.

♣♣♣♣♣ This class blew my mind! Ken is a great speaker, and his lectures really made me think about how our views of the environment have been historically constructed.

♣♣♣♣♣ Lectures sometimes seemed to repeat the same thing over and over.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very organized and interesting class. Movies relate to topics well, and lectures are clear. I like how the slides are emailed, easier to pay attention in lecture.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very eloquent and straightforward, which I appreciated. Best professor I’ve ever had, arguably. Passionate about the subject and always had interesting lectures.

♣♣♣♣♣ Thoroughly covered information and was available to speak to.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very intelligent and insightful. However, slightly arrogant and condescending.

♣♣♣♣♣ Maybe a little too much text at times on slides. Would be easier with just main points and them elaboration during lecture. Love the lecture overall, though! Very interesting.

♣♣♣♣♣ The course was very enjoyable. Though it moved very fast, I thought the literary selections were great and the themes and topics built upon one another nicely. Personally, I felt that the midterm focused too much on small details from the readings, which didn’t test one’s understanding of course material as a whole.

♣♣♣♣♣ This class was amazing. I think that it should be a required Environmental Studies class. Really gave insight into where all of the ideas/ideals I have come from, which is critical in moving forward to make changes. Thanks to Professor Hiltner; this class was really one of my favorites here at UCSB.

♣♣♣♣♣ Your class was excellent; I enjoyed it very much. I would have liked more analysis on the selections as a whole (themes, translations, historical context) though I know we were pressed for time as it is. Thank you!

♣♣♣♣♣ It is nice to have such a thorough power point lectures! It is nice to have them ahead of time and study all of them.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really feel that I learned a lot in this course and it has very practical meaning. Well explained.

♣♣♣♣♣ Really good lecturer and great material. You can tell he’s super smart. Enjoyable class.

♣♣♣♣♣ Organized, concise, and interesting. Hiltner is truly brilliant. Best class I have taken in college.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very interesting and the slides being online was very helpful for taking notes in class.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great professor. Communicates info/material clearly and well. This class provided me with a new perception on the environment—great class!

♣♣♣♣♣ Very prepared—the lectures and slides were interesting and easy to understand.

♣♣♣♣♣ Very well prepared for lecture, approachable, interesting content. Overall great class.

♣♣♣♣♣ I would have liked a faster output of essay prompts. Less reading material; I wasn’t able to focus in depth on some readings because I felt overwhelmed by the material. Loved having the lectures/slides ahead of time. It helped me to be prepared for lectures and study easier.

♣♣♣♣♣ As a non-English or Environmental Studies major, but an environmental enthusiast I thoroughly enjoyed this class.

♣♣♣♣♣ “The force is strong with this one.”

♣♣♣♣♣ The class sometimes didn’t match with the syllabus, which was at times confusing.

♣♣♣♣♣ Lecture goes fast and it is hard to keep up and process reading. Should allow more time per slide. Paper should be due earlier, rather that a few days before finals because it is dead week.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great teacher, patient, eager to teach and very knowledgeable.

♣♣♣♣♣ He always came to class with a positive attitude. He is very knowledgeable about the course. He was always available for study hours and made power points available, which were very useful. I really enjoyed this class and the readings.

♣♣♣♣♣ I loved your class. Keep up the good work!

♣♣♣♣♣ Pretty boring and repetitive, but still interesting.

♣♣♣♣♣ Wonderful professor, no complaints about the course at all. Lectures were great and well-organized. My only complaint is that I never received the emails with lectures and didn’t get a response when I emailed him about it.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really enjoyed his lectures and some of the course readings. I enjoyed having an English perspective to an ES major. It was new and different.

♣♣♣♣♣ Clear power points. EXCELLENT reading choices. Tests were well put together and covered all texts equally. Powerful class without directly enforcing ideas.

♣♣♣♣♣ I understand that people from previous quarters thought that he read from the slides too much, but not reading them at all wasn’t much better. I felt rushed to read before he talked. He could just read the gist of the sentences but not word for word. Otherwise, loved his teaching.

♣♣♣♣♣ I really liked the course and thought the professor was great. He is definitely passionate about teaching and the subject matter, which makes it more interesting and easier to learn.

♣♣♣♣♣ Probably the best lecture I have ever seen.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor was very good. Lectures were interesting and the materials covered were a good span of topics.

♣♣♣♣♣ No complaints, a little biased at times, but still good.

♣♣♣♣♣ This class was extremely interesting. I loved it!

♣♣♣♣♣ Very well designed course. Every reading had a purpose. Hiltner is very intelligent and insightful. Only complaint is the awkward shift from prose to poetry after midterm. I would prefer either poetry or prose the entire course.

♣♣♣♣♣ I loved this class!

♣♣♣♣♣ This was a well-structured and very interesting, informative course. I will highly recommend the course and Prof. Hiltner to other students in the major. However, I was disappointed in the discussion section, as I found the TA extremely difficult to work with, which diminished my enjoyment of the course overall.

♣♣♣♣ Thank you for emailing the lectures out, this really helped when reviewing them later. However, at times lectures became confusing when we focused on multiple readings or a new lecture was started at the very end of class. I also think there were much more readings after the midterm, including two books, which were all mentioned too briefly for me to get a clear grasp on them. Perhaps shortening the reader would help all and all, very clear explanations. Thank you!

♣♣♣♣ Great class, very straightforward and simple. Professor Hiltner makes it easy for students to study and get good grades. The classes can be fairly simple and a little predicable.

♣♣♣♣ Interesting, eye-opening course. Dry at times, but I always knew what to expect. Straightforward, thought provoking, interesting.

♣♣♣♣ Interesting paper topics, but some of the readings dragged. Would have liked to see more focus on modern literature.

♣♣♣♣ Mr. Hiltner provides a vast knowledge of the subject to his students. He is passionate and conveys this to his students. Attending lecture was enjoyable and he kept me interested. Enjoyable material.

♣♣♣♣ Very cool guy. I like how he advocates for the environment and Occupy Wallstreet. You kick ass.

♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is organized, and a great lecturer. His class taught me to look at literature in a new light. Concepts were to the point and easy to understand and because of his excellent teaching style. I really enjoyed this class.

♣♣♣♣ Ditch the Middle English readings!

♣♣♣♣ It was a great class! Thanks for the films—they were good AND educational!

♣♣♣♣ The slides were excessively long. Every one had multiple paragraphs on it—an ineffective and incorrect use of power point as a teaching tool. Professor mostly repeated (sometimes 2-3x) what was written on the slides instead of expanding on them. The exams were unnecessarily detail oriented.

♣♣♣♣ Lecture slides should be more concise.

♣♣♣♣ The lecture is kind of boring, it does not really catch my attention. However, the content is interesting.

♣♣♣♣ I wish that we had time to go into depth on source of the modern authors.

♣♣♣♣ Need to incorporate environment more.

♣♣♣♣ I have never taken a literature class before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Overall, the professor was clear and engaging. Class seemed a little useless to an environmental studies major, but still a good one.

♣♣♣♣ Very passionate and thorough when covering topics. A bit difficult to get a hold of using email.

♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is good at supplying lecture slides, along with detailing them in lecture. His class was both interesting and fun to come to.

♣♣♣♣ It was good that the course comprised of many different kinds of literature that related humans to their environment rather than the modern environmental movement.

♣♣♣ The professor should engage the students more in class. He could’ve asked questions that makes the students think about the environment. Also, the professor wrote too much on the slides/presentation. He should write less and explain more without reading the material on the slides.

♣♣♣ Prof. Hiltner is good at explaining the significance of each text that we read. He is good at relating them back to themes of the class and seeing them from different perspectives as well. I like it when professors incorporate videos into their lectures. I think that Prof. Hiltner could improve by not reading off of the lecture slides and instead giving the most information through talking would better encourage class attendance.

♣♣♣ The slides were very wordy, the main point is repeated quite often. Overall, good course material, hard to make it super interesting. Thank you for your time. I am a Christian and didn’t take offense, but I do encourage you to read more modern theology.

♣♣♣ Lectures online/emailed out were huge help. As an ES major, the material of the course was very thought-provoking, especially your perspectives. I definitely reevaluated thoughts.

♣♣ I feel like compared to the other classes I’ve taken for GE’s, he isn’t grasping at “fake” ideas. He makes very good arguments.

♣♣ I would have liked to be more engaged with the material, because all you really did was lecture. I think that the topic was much more exciting and much more could have been done than merely power point lecture. The material was good; maybe you could present the material differently and in a variety of ways. Plus, you write essays on your slides, which can be a bit overwhelming. A lot of it is mostly repetitive.

Unrated, I loved this course! Ken did a wonderful job at historicizing our attitudes toward the environment. Really interesting stuff made really enjoyable.

Unrated, As a senior, I think this is one of the best courses I’ve ever taken. Great lecturer, uploads all classes. I usually don’t write comments but truly exceptional professor.

Unrated, The material was great, his presentations were even better! By far my favorite course at UCSB.

Unrated, Great professor: Really passionate. KNOWS HIS STUFF. I would have liked to tell him that we do appreciate him.

Unrated, Too much wording on the slides. I think it’s great that he has so much information. However, the material would stick so much more if it were bullet points and he were talking the whole time.