“It’s a natural connection. There is such a powerful affinity between the two.” When discussing the new Program for Philosophy and Literature that they established at the University of Haifa, Dr. Natasha Gordinsky and Dr. Lior Levy say it in unison. The two young researchers met at an orientation session for new academic staff at the University of Haifa, and found themselves holding a passionate discussion on the expansive common ground between their chosen fields of literature and philosophy. By the time orientation was over, Levy, who researches 20th-century European philosophy, and Gordinsky, whose interests focus on Hebrew and comparative literature, had decided to submit a proposal to set up Israel’s first Program for Philosophy and Literature. “Philosophers turn to literature for an analysis of the human condition, and many great writers are philosophers par excellence. So the idea for this program just fell into place naturally,” says Levy. “We felt a bit presumptuous as new kids in town coming along with such a proposal,” adds Gordinsky, “but it was received with remarkable enthusiasm and support from the faculty and departments as an opportunity to expand the circle of students who are gaining exposure to other disciplines.” The proposal received the support of department heads and the collaboration of other members of faculty to devise and teach courses. The program also required new resources. As a first in Israel, it was granted support from the Israeli Council for Higher Education and the Yad Hanadiv Foundation, and was awarded a grant for innovative curricula. Leading scholars from international Philosophy and Literature programs at Harvard, Duke and other universities in the US and Europe are academic board members for the program.
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