In both teaching and research, our department combines a strong emphasis on English and American literature and culture with a wider, comparative and interdisciplinary framework. Our approach to literature and culture is diverse, both theoretically and methodologically, and we examine literature and culture from a variety of cognitive, formalist, historical, sociological, and psychological perspectives. We also encourage combinations and interactions with other fields of study in the humanities and social sciences.
Our research strengths include 19th and 20th century American fiction, Native American and African American studies, cultural Zionism, Holocaust memory, Shakespearean and Renaissance drama, book history, comparative literature, and cognitive poetics.
Courses in the literature stream have multiple foci, ranging from major authors, genres, and periods, to the history of reading, psychoanalytic criticism, modern Jewish studies, cognitive poetics, and critical race studies. Our students acquire tools for literary analysis along with an understanding of developments in cultural and literary history, while honing their skills in both written and oral expression.
The M.A. program offers either a Thesis (research) track or a non-thesis (general) track. Both are two-year programs. All tracks have three objectives: (1) to expose students to current research topics in the field; (2) to engage students in academic discourse, research methodologies and critical reasoning; (3) to train students in academic writing and usage of professional literature. All tracks are designed to take two years. Additionally, the goal of the thesis track is that students conduct original research and contribute to scientific knowledge.
1. Thesis track
Literature students in the thesis track take a methodology course in their first year. Beyond this, students may choose freely from the MA courses offered. All MA courses are run as seminars. Students must write a long seminar paper in two courses of their choice.
Overall, students in the thesis track take 24 points (comprising 50% of the final grade). They also write a research thesis (12 points, comprising 50% of the final grade). Students are encouraged to attend the departmental seminar throughout their two years of study.
All research students are expected to choose an advisor and begin working on their thesis proposal (approx. 5-7 pages plus bibliography) before the end of the first year. The thesis advisor works closely with the student, preparing the proposal. Once it is approved another faculty member serves as a second reader, and the student is asked to "defend" the proposal in a three-way conversation, modeled on the PhD proposal "defense." This conversation results in approval or a request for revision. When the proposal has been approved by both readers, the student may proceed with his/her MA research.
2. Non-thesis track
Students in this track take 36 points (comprising 80% of the final grade) plus a final oral exam (comprising 20% of the final grade). This exam is based on a reading list grounded in, but broadening, the content of two courses taken during MA studies. The list is prepared in consultation with the teacher of each course. Students take the exam once they have completed and received grades for all of their course work. The oral exam is administered by the two teachers plus the MA advisor.