General Information

The Bar-Ilan Department of English Literature and Linguistics is composed of two independent, structurally related divisions:

  • English & American Literature
  • Linguistics

Literature explores classical and contemporary poetry, fiction, and prose to understand how history shapes and is shaped by artists who use language. Literary theory asks psychological and philosophical questions about how we come to know the world and ourselves through texts and symbolic communication. Literature, as the critic Kenneth Burke said, is "Equipment for Living."

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. The linguistics division provides students with a thorough training both in theoretical fields, such as syntax, semantics and phonology, and in applied and experimental fields, such as language acquisition, bilingualism, neurolinguistics, reading acquisition, and discourse analysis.

Literature Division

Bar-Ilan has an outstanding Literature Division with tracks 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, rhetorical theory, Jewish interpretive theory, Jewish-American writers, Renaissance literature, and literature in performance.

In addition to its regular tracks, the Literature Division sponsors special programs and journals. The M.A. in English with an emphasis on 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. We also offer a new MA in literature with an emphasis on literary translation.

Our graduate course offerings include special courses on literature and pedagogy, aimed at English teachers looking to revitalize their teaching practice and engage intellectually with colleagues and new work in the field.

Professor Jeffrey Perl edits the internationally recognized and award winning scholarly journal Common Knowledge

Linguistics Division

Bar-Ilan has the most broadly based linguistics program in Israel, offering a wide variety of courses in syntax, semantics, morphology, phonology, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, and literacy. Linguistic research in the department deals with aspects of the grammar and use of Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, English and many other languages; much of the research in the department deals with multilingualism and with cross-linguistic variation in the grammar of human language. Our programs introduce students to a wide variety of research methods: experimental, corpus-based, as well as formal analysis of language phenomena using the tools of abstract theoretical linguistics.

In addition to our regular MA and PhD programs, which are meant for students with a background in linguistics (or those whose BA was not in linguistics who completed a year of prerequisite linguistics courses in the department), the Linguistics division also offers a Linguistics in Clinical Research MA program. This program focuses on the fundamental processes in language acquisition among children, including bilinguals and those with language impairments.

Degree Tracks

The Department offers flexible tracks to accommodate students of every kind. Students may pursue a B.A. in either Literature or Linguistics as their Major, Expanded Major, or even as part of the "Direct M.A." program. Direct M.A. students combine a B.A. and M.A. in one track. Students in the M.A. program can choose to do their Master's degree with or without a thesis. The M.A. can be combined with other options as well, including Clinical Research in Linguistics, or Creative Writing.

The Department has many achievements in research, grants, and publications. There are more than 40 active Ph.D. students, many of whom are supported by Bar-Ilan Presidential Fellowships or assistantships funded by grants from sources such as the Israel Science Foundation, and the Gonda Brain Sciences Research Center.

Faculty Members

The members of the Department faculty are warm, receptive, committed teachers as well as prolific authors. Some of the works they have published are listed under Research.