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 their 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.


Message from the Chair

The study of literature combines passion, pleasure, and the opportunity for profound personal transformation. The courses in our department explore the literary imagination as it manifests in different times and places and the ways in which these expressions have shaped our current local and global cultures. Essentially, the study of literature is a journey into ourselves and our world – a journey that allows us to become more knowledgeable, more complex, and hopefully better people.

The study of literature also has a practical side. In an age of constant bombardment of narratives and opinions – on t.v., in the newspaper, and on Facebook – the capacity to read critically is more important than ever. We need to cultivate the ability to weed out the noise, to evaluate a text’s meaning, and to reveal its hidden assumptions and agendas. The study of literature develops this capacity. The skills gained in the General and Comparative Literature department, then, are crucial for today’s dynamic work environment and will serve students in whatever career path they choose.

The Department of General and Comparative Literature has many advantages. We enable students to encounter versatile cultures and a breadth of topics, with an emphasis on intellectual freedom. In our program, there is no need to focus on one national literature, one disciplinary perspective, or one historical period. Rather, we encourage our students to delve into different literatures and fields of knowledge. Virginia Woolf and Kafka, Rumi and Toni Morrison, Dante and Derrida – are in conversation in our classrooms, for we believe that a comparative analysis enriches our understanding of the individual work and its cultural, political, and ethical significance. So, if you love reading literature and would like to delve further into the way literature functions in human society – come join us!

Prof. Yoav Rinon, Department's Chair

Why Study Comparative Literature?

The study of comparative literature encompasses many areas of knowledge, both within the field of literature and beyond. As such, it grants students a wide perspective on a variety of subjects alongside a fine-tuned, in-depth, analytic capability. The integrative tools given to the department’s students, paired with their exposure to a wide range of approaches, perspectives, and world-views, hold an inherent advantage, which will serve the students wherever they turn. In addition to the wide literary and theoretical education, the studies in the department grant students a solid humanistic grounding, as well as tools for critical thinking, which are imperative for any professional choice. The department’s alumni have continued their professional paths in many fields:


1. Academic research in universities, research institutes, and museums.

2. Employment in the publishing world as writers, editors, translators, and managers.

3. Employment in a variety of media outlets, both in digital and in print, as editors, writers, and translators.

4. Teachers and educators in different institutes and schools.

5. Work as literary critics and editors, both as freelancers and as part of specific projects.

6. Work as authors, poets, and translators (among the department’s alumni: Sami Berdugo, Ayman Sikseck, Michal Pitovsky, and Lior Sternberg).



Contact Us


Head of the department - Dr. Gur Zak: gur.zak@mail.huji.ac.il

Office hours: Tue. 15:00-16:00


Secretary - Meital Biton: meitalb@savion.huji.ac.il, 00-972-2-5883581

Office hours: Sun. 14.30-11.30, Mon.-Thu. 10:00 - 13:00

Room 4503   


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