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