The Bar-Ilan English Department is composed of two independent, structurally related divisions: English & American Literature and 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 languages. It involves the basic attributes of language - syntax, semantics and pragmatics - and the reasons behind language acquisition and development. Fields include psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, sociolinguistics and discourse analysis.
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, cognitive and 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 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 graduate program, "Teaching the Conflicts," recruits English teachers in Israel and exposes them to recent developments in the field of literary studies.It gives them the tools to implement these advances in their own classes, along with a community of like-minded colleagues.
Professor Jeffrey Perl edits the internationally recognized and award winning scholarly journal Common Knowledge. Professor Michael Kramer edits a special journal of contemporary Jewish creative writing in English called Maggid.
Bar-Ilan has the most broadly based linguistics program in Israel. It exceeds all other equivalent programs in number and variety of courses. There are many areas of faculty specialization, and a broad range of topics for graduate research. The Bar-Ilan Linguistics Division offers courses in syntax, semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and literacy, with particular strengths in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics.
The Division also includes a Clinical Research M.A. program. It focuses on the fundamental processes in language acquisition among children, including bilinguals and those with language impairments. Many research projects are currently underway including: formal semantics of predication and events and their contribution to syntactic and semantic theory; first and second language acquisition; bilingualism; and language disorders, including projects on Specific Language Impairment (SLI), ADHD and schizophrenia.
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 50 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.
The members of the English Department faculty are warm, receptive, committed teachers as well as prolific authors. Some of the works they have published are listed along with pictures of the covers and summaries under Publications.