Eng/ES 122LE, Summer 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. 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: 4.7 of 5 (♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent; ♣♣♣♣ Very Good; ♣♣♣ Good; ♣♣ Fair; ♣ Poor)

♣♣♣♣♣ Honestly, a perfect class. No negative opinions that I can think of right now. Lectures and information are simple & complex, but effectively taught so easy to understand. Appreciate the availability of course materials online.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great class! I really enjoyed the readings and breaking them down in environmental terms in context was something new and very interesting. I will recommend this class to my friends for sure.

♣♣♣♣♣ Ken is great. Loved this class! Very interesting, and glad to say I picked up knowledge that I will be glad to keep forever.

♣♣♣♣♣ Enjoyable and informative lectures. I only wish there was a Gauchospace page to keep the syllabus and essay prompts organized!

♣♣♣♣♣ Lots of writing on slides, great topics. Summer is rushed but went through everything well! Enjoyed videos/music on lectures. Encouraging critical thinking is great as well.

♣♣♣♣♣ Hiltner was a very good Professor! He was always prepared and went in depth about environmental issues and how literature reflects our world today! 🙂 Thanks for a wonderful session.

♣♣♣♣♣ Exceptional professor. One of the best I’ve had.

♣♣♣♣♣ Excellent teaching style. In depth analysis of readings. Very thought provoking, made me think in new ways about literature + environmental problems. Super caring about students.

♣♣♣♣♣ Thoroughly enjoyed the class. I thought a lot of slides might be a bit redundant, yet they were all full of knowledge and new perspectives of the literary/environmental world.

♣♣♣♣♣ Maybe have less house-based poetry. They kind of repeated a lot, and he didn’t go over them in sufficient depth & the differences to be meaningful.

♣♣♣♣♣ Great and kind professor. Learned much about how humans impact the environment. Very organized.

♣♣♣♣♣ Professor Hiltner is very passionate about his course subject and students. He breaks down broad-ranging and complicated topics involving literature as a lens for eco-criticism and makes it accessible to us. He’s also very thoughtful and easy to approach with comments or concerns.

♣♣♣♣ Excellent class! One critique — maybe assign the documentaries for homework so we can spend more time discussing them in class. Otherwise, thoroughly enjoyed it!

♣♣♣ Material complemented each other nicely. Well-rounded and varied topics. Instructor is monotone, has wordy lecture slides.

Unrated, Interesting, straight-forward class. Introduced me to an entirely diff. perspective (environment) of written works. Professor Hiltner presents lectures effectively to the class + makes us think outside of the material presented (and that material itself is already something to think further about).

Unrated, The content was relatively easy to understand. I enjoyed the method of instruction. I have gained a new outlook on environmental consciousness through this class.