Praise be to Allah, the Almighty; peace and blessings be upon the noblest among prophets and messengers, our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and upon all his family and companions. The superiority of the West in the domains of science, economy, politics and military has resulted in its freedom of decision making in a way that could affect our lives negatively. Therefore, it is wise that our nation should comprehend and study the essence, background and effective factors of the decision-making mentalities in the Western world. As a result, the study of such peoples’ culture and intellect has become an absolute necessity that could be achieved through several means, one of which has been the study of English Literature, the think tank of the Western communities.
Due to the wide intellectual space filled by English Literature in the West, our nation’s intellectuals should study and meditate on it to understand the West in light of its self-expression. It is for our nation’s interest to comprehend such world accurately, and therefore be able to reach for its mentality and address it out of more evidence and effectiveness. On the other hand, it is scientifically fundamental to linguists that teaching literature is considered one of the most successful means of not only learning language, but also mastering it. This is because literary texts are distinguished with diversity of rhetorical techniques and richness of vocabulary. This results in the learner’s acquisition of the ability to arrange and demonstrate his/her thoughts in a convincing and impressive way. It was said in history that “Rhetoric involves magic.”
It is noteworthy to demonstrate some of the opinions of language-teaching specialists. Joseph John says that in any English language program that seeks the graduation of efficient specialists literary subjects win. Susan Stern adds that literature grants students of English language (as a second or foreign language) high-level potential capacities. In addition to that, the presentation of the English Literature Master’s Degree Program is a natural move for it to firmly step beside both the Applied Linguistics and the Translation Master’s Degree Programs. This will also add some diversity and integrity, which is required in the English Language Department programs at the level of postgraduate studies, especially that the Department includes the sufficient Saudi human competencies specialized in English Literature.
It is the ways of thinking, situations and behavioral patterns that are noticed in the Western society that reflect the literary heritage thereof. Therefore, professors in this program will urge students to meditate on the ways of thinking, analyze situations, study characters and behavioral patterns, and then discuss all this in the light of the Western society’s motives and cultural background. For example, while the works of Bernard Shaw, the English playwright who formulated part of the Western thinking, are being taught, his thoughts about war versus peace and change in the conditions of women should be studied. Moreover, while Conrad, the Polish-English novelist, is being taught, alienation inside the Western soul should be discussed. On the other hand, Whitman, the American poet, should be taught through the explanation of the role he played in describing and instilling the American Dream into the minds of readers. Failure to comprehend Alex Haley, the African-American author, leads to ignorance of what happened to the American conscience with regards to dealing with non-white Americans. Thus, successful interaction with the West in every domain of life should depend on correct understanding of the Western thinking sources.
As for serving Islam, teaching literary works written in English will help track both the image of Islam and Muslims in the West and the Western attempts to distort it. It is crystal clear that the Western literary works (i.e. novels, plays and poems) played a role in the demonstration of false and distorted images of Islam, Muslims and Arabs. Therefore, the analytical and practical study of literature will help students understand such background and then contribute to respond convincingly by the presentation of a true image of our religion and world to such nations.
The program’s system of study shall be as follows:
The curricula shall be according to the stipulation of Paragraph (2) of Article thirty-three of the Unified Rules for Postgraduate Studies in the Saudi Universities, putting into account that all this Program’s curricula shall be read and written in English.
According to the stipulations of the Unified Rules for Postgraduate Studies in the Saudi Universities concerning the comprehensive exam, the male/female student shall have the right to submit an application to set the date of his/her comprehensive exam, upon finishing 80% of the curricula. The comprehensive exam shall be conducted as follows:
Duration of study shall be at least two years.