Welcome to the Department of English Literature and American Studies! Here you will study literary texts both old and new as well as sharpen your understanding of the historical, cultural, and philosophical contexts that produce not only writers and texts, but also readers like yourself. Human beings, after all, are a story-producing and story-consuming species. Stories and other literary forms help shape our social, political and moral views; they tell us which ideals to emulate and which goals are worth pursuing, and thus may give direction and purpose to our lives. Some of these cultural myths, tales, and metaphors come down to us from the ancient world; others are more recent. In our department, you will become familiar with the classics of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton, but also with the works of contemporary writers such as Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, and Kazuo Ishiguro.
Apart from enlarging your cultural vocabulary, a degree with us will enhance your linguistic competence. At our department, you will learn how to develop and express complex ideas in academic English. We believe that writing well and thinking well are interlinked skills, and our aim is to help you become better at both. To that effect, the department awards several grants and prizes for excellence in student writing and achievement on both the BA and MA level, including a prize for original poetry.
Our curriculum is enriched by a program of seminars, international conferences, and visiting scholars who are invited for varying periods of time to lecture and participate in workshops devoted to current issues in the field. Our writer-in-residence program enables the department to host each year, for the duration of two weeks to one month, a celebrated writer of the English-speaking world.
In addition to the Literature Track, the department offers an American Studies Track designed to provide interested BA students with a broad, critical understanding of American history, society, and culture, from the colonial period to the present age of globalization. Studies in this track are interdisciplinary in nature: while the program is based on core courses taught by members of our faculty, it integrates courses from other disciplines, like history, cultural studies, political science, art history, film, and media studies. Our goal is to encourage students to engage the complexities and diversity of the American experience by utilizing the various methods made available in such a wide-ranging curriculum.
Studying and teaching the cultures of the English-speaking world in a non-English-speaking country places us at a unique position of being especially alert to the ways in which literary languages and alphabets intersect in great works of literature. It is from this perspective of an intimate outsider that the Department of English and American Studies at Tel Aviv University pursues the rigorous scrutiny of literary texts in the English language, using the finest conceptual tools of literary theory for critical thinking that is at the same time creative. We hope that you join us in this pursuit.