The Department of General and Comparative Literature was founded in 1960 by the renowned poet, translator, and scholar Leah Goldberg. Goldberg’s enthusiasm for the study of diverse literatures and her sensitivity toward literary expression in unique cultural contexts has inspired her colleagues as well as future generations of scholars. In recent years, the field of comparative literature has received renewed attention due to the growing interest in globalization, as writers and texts migrate across cultures and languages, taking on new shades of meaning. We cannot answer the traditional question “what is literature?” without exploring the role literature plays today, in a world where different cultures participate in an ever expanding dialogue across an ever shrinking space.
The Department of General and Comparative Literature offers a wide array of courses exploring different literary traditions and emphasizing questions of aesthetics, style, historical context, influence, and reception. The curriculum encompasses a range of theoretical approaches – from classical to contemporary post-modern theories. To enable comparative analysis we have developed an interdisciplinary approach, aimed at examining the interplay of literature and other areas of study such as philosophy, history, film, ethnography, psychoanalysis, and linguistics. The diversity of perspectives within the department enables every student to design a course of study according to his or her own interests.
The department enjoys an active and vibrant student body. They regularly organize literary events throughout Jerusalem, attended by both students and staff. Every year, outstanding students are awarded scholarships and special prizes.