The English Department of the Hebrew University provides a program for a systematic study of British and American literature as well as insights into South African and Canadian literature.
In the first year of studies the emphasis is on introductory courses in literary genres, close text analysis, English proficiency, and academic writing. In the second year the emphasis moves to courses on literature in the historical perspective, with the development of research skills being added to that of writing skills. During the third year the students are offered a variety of more specialized elective courses, dealing with theoretical issues or with specific writers and periods.
The graduate program includes a research track, with the direct-doctorate option, and a non-research track.
The texts studied include the works of major authors of the past (such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens, Joyce, Woolf, Hawthorne, and Dickinson) as well as works by contemporary authors (such as Atwood, Coetzee, Morrison, Ozick, and Philip Roth). Both traditional and innovative approaches are practiced. Discussions of the artistic achievements of literary works, along with the issues that the works raise, create an enriching intellectual experience conducive to high-quality writing on a variety of subjects.
Graduates of the department work as teachers, editors, journalists; some pursue academic careers; most continue to cultivate literary interests and intellectual alertness with the help of the basis laid during their studies.