The English Department at Bar-Ilan offers programs in linguistics, which is the scientific study of natural language(s), and in literature, which means studying the great works of literature written in English throughout the centuries. Students can choose to study both of these fields or only one, and each of them can be combined with studies in other departments.
Studying linguistics helps to increase your understanding and awareness of how we use language, and develops your ability to investigate and analyze complex patterns. Studying literature helps to develop and strengthen the important skills of critical thinking, analysis, and writing – all increasingly vital in today's workplace. It is also a chance to enrich your knowledge, enjoy some of the most beautiful literature ever written, and gain a critical perspective on contemporary culture and experience.
The Bar-Ilan English Department has the most broadly based program in Israel. It exceeds all other equivalent programs in number and variety of courses. The department offers not only a range of degrees in English literature and linguistics, but a series of unique, specialized programs, including Linguistics in Clinical Research, Creative Writing, and Literary Translation.
For all its many programs and directions, the English Department is also a close community. The faculty members are highly accomplished scholars who are also devoted teachers, and the department is widely known for its warm, friendly and inclusive atmosphere. A multi-cultural environment and diverse student body reflect the department's commitment to pluralism and to the free exchange of opinions and ideas.
Bar-Ilan has an outstanding Literature Division with courses surveying the historical development of English and American literature, interdisciplinary advanced seminars, and options for independent study. Among the faculty's special interests are women and literature, the relation of text and image, Jewish interpretive theory, Jewish-American writers, Renaissance literature, creative non-fiction, and literature and pedagogy. The wide array of courses covers both classic literature and topics in contemporary culture, such as the graphic novel or the relation between literature and film. Our classes our designed not only to let you enjoy wonderful literature but to develop your skills of critical reading, complex thinking, and self-expression.
In addition to its regular tracks, the Literature Division sponsors special programs: The M.A. in English and Creative Writing is a unique program, with no known parallel anywhere in the world. Aspiring writers develop professional excellence in prose or poetry while drawing upon Jewish tradition and the experience and challenge of life in Israel. The newly launched M.A. in English Literature with a focus on literary translation allows students to work with world-class translators on developing their translating skills while also pursuing high-level studies in the English literary tradition.
The department offers special graduate programming in literature and pedagogy, which is especially geared towards teachers of English in the Israeli school system. Through these courses, teachers have a chance to rethink the meaning of literary education and to participate in a scholarly exchange with others who share their interests and challenges.
If you have been puzzled by how language works or why it sometimes doesn’t sound right, or if you’ve wondered how children learn language, what happens in our brain when we process language and how we are able to produce and understand sentences we’ve never heard before, so have we in the linguistics section of the English department. In fact, we find such questions and their answers so interesting that we spend much of our time thinking about them and exchanging ideas and results of our work. You are welcome to join us in looking for answers to these exciting questions, and many more like them, and to become part of the lively and quickly developing field of modern linguistics.
You will find that studying any branch of linguistics involves strong training in analytical skills that can be used in any endeavour. Modern linguistics attempts to advance scientific research of natural language, and it interacts with areas like cognitive psychology, computer science, and brain science. The Linguistics Division in our department emphasizes an interdisciplinary and open minded approach to language; we deal both with the theoretical fields of linguistics (such as syntax, semantics, and phonology) and with the applied and experimental fields (such as first and second language acquisition, bilingualism and language impairments). And our unique MA/PhD program in Linguistics in Clinical Research allows students coming from a background in fields such as communication disorders to deepen their understanding of the mechanisms involved in human language use.
After completing your degree in linguistics at our department, there are many possible directions that you can take. The wide variety of topics that we teach, covering both theoretical and experimental fields of linguistics, means that you will have a solid foundation that would prepare you for advanced studies, at Bar Ilan or any other university in Israel or abroad. If you decide to continue to an advanced degree in a different field, you will benefit from the tools and skills that you acquire during your linguistics studies. These skills are useful not only in the academic world, and our graduates have established successful careers in areas such as hi-tech, editing, translation, teaching and many more.
Since we teach in English, you will get the significant advantage of having practiced reading, writing and communicating in today’s international language. You don’t have to speak perfect English in order to study with us: Many of our students are native speakers of Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, or other languages. The years that you will spend with us will expose you to academic as well as ordinarily spoken English and give you ample opportunities to use these varieties of English and to improve your speech and writing skills, an important and useful tool in whatever you decide to do later in your life.
Our department is small and friendly, and we believe that it is important that you enjoy not only the content of your studies but also the atmosphere and interactions that you have. We do our best to make our students’ experience as pleasant as possible, and you are always welcome to contact us with any problem or question that you may have.