Ken Hiltner

2012 – 2013 Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and Humanities and Visiting Professor of English and the Princeton Environmental Institute.



Hiltner is a professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has served as director of the Early Modern Center, director of Graduate Studies, and director of the Literature and the Environment Center. He is the author of five books, which include “Milton and Ecology” (Cambridge UP, 2003; paperback 2009), “What Else is Pastoral?” (Cornell UP, 2011), and “Essential Ecocriticism” (Routledge, Forthcoming), as well as numerous articles. All of the books and most of the articles explore the ideological underpinnings of our current environmental crisis. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he garnered a number of distinctions, including the Bowdoin Prize. Prior to his academic career, he made his living as a furniture maker. As a second-generation woodworker, he received commissions from five continents and had collections featured in major metropolitan galleries.


While at Princeton

In the fall 2012 semester, Hiltner taught An Introduction to Literature and the Environment. The goals of the course were to introduce the study of environmental criticism, also known as ecocriticism or “green” criticism, which is a rapidly emerging field of literary study that considers the relationship that human beings have to the environment and to facilitate student discussion of the course material and the issues it raises. During the spring 2013 semester, Hiltner taught Theories of Literature and the Environment which explored a range of works from modern environmental critics, beginning in the 1960s and ending with the ongoing explosion of interest in the field in the 21st century. In addition to teaching, Hiltner delivered several lectures including The Two Cultures in Environmental Studies. He also organized a two-day conference entitled Environmental Humanities in a Changing World. The Conference not only brought together leaders from a range of fields in the environmental humanities, but also prominent artists producing work with environmental import. The goal of the conference was to both provide succinct overviews of these fields and introduction to this art, as well as to consider how these various approaches can work together for the future of the planet. more >>