Introduction to Literature and the Environment

Course Number: ENGL 22
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
Advisory Enrollment Information: Not open for credit to students who have completed English 122LE or Environmental Studies 122LE.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 22
Quarter: Fall 2020
Instructor: Hiltner, Ken
Day(s): MWF
Time: 2:00 PM-2:50 PM
Location: Online
Description:

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. In addition to being an introduction to literature and the environment, we will also be considering philosophy, history, religion, and culture from an environmental perspective. Thus, this course also provides an introduction to the environmental humanities, including environmental history, eco-philosophy, eco-theology, eco-art history, architecture and the environment, and (through the course’s films) environmental media studies.

Interested in what students think of this lecture? Professor Hiltner has published student evals for previous years that this course was taught to his personal website.

This course satisfies the following three UCSB General Education (GE) requirements: Area E (Culture and Thought), Area G (Literature), and the European Traditions Requirement. 

Note that Eng 22 has an optional  honors seminar that is designed to enrich the large lecture experience for the motivated student.

The UCSB Current published an article on this course entitled, “Earthly Concerns.