The Department of English Language and Literature marks its humble beginnings in the year 1950, first as a Lectorate of English Language within the Faculty of Philosophy, then, in 1958 it grows into a sub-department of English Language and Literature within the Department of German Studies of the said Faculty, and finally, in 1960, it gains independence as a Department of English Language and Literature. At the first admissions cycle in 1958, 60 students enrolled for the English Studies program, which just goes to show the enormous interest that existed for this type of studies in Macedonia from the very beginning. Associate professor Mira Shunjik was the first Department Chair, and then, immediately afterwards, the doyenne of English Studies in Macedonia – senior lecturer Darinka Arsova. It is an interesting detail to note that Arsova, together with James Leech, a professor from Great Britain, created the first English course books for primary school education in Macedonia in the 60s of the last century. During this time, and especially after the catastrophic earthquake in Skopje in 1963, there is marked cooperation with foreign colleges and universities, and especially with the help of the ‘Ford’ and ‘Fulbright’ Foundations from the US and the British Council, a number of visiting lecturers and professors participate in the functioning of the Department, and in this way help to create the much-needed teaching staff for the Department’s ongoing existence and work. It is also interesting to note that the first visiting lecturer at the Department is none other than the renowned novelist Saul Bellow, who held a number of lectures for the students and the teaching staff in the spring of 1960.
During the 1960s, a number of exceptional young people become members of the Department of English Language and Literature, such as Ivanka Koviloska-Poposka, Vladimir Cvetkovski, Velko Siljanoski, Lidija Arsova-Nikolik, Ljubica Todorova-Janeslieva, and Aleksandrina Nanova-Ilieva, who, together with the British lectors Graham Reid and Margaret-Peggy Reid, establish a solid foundation of a modern English Language and Literature Studies program, and elevate these studies to a notably high level, not just in comparison with the other centers in existence in the former Yugoslavia, but in the wider Balkan region as well. In the early 1970s, the Department is joined by Svetozar Brkik, an eminent name in the field of English studies and superbly knowledgeable in English literature, having previously taught at the universities in Belgrade and Novi Sad. His extensive knowledge, experience and exceptional pedagogical approach has an inspirational effect on the younger members of staff, as well as on the students themselves, thus serving to further elevate the professional and academic level of the Department. Immediately afterwards, the Department is joined by Olga Misheska-Tomic, the first to obtain a PhD in the area of English linguistics at the Skopje University in the previous year. Coupled with the extraordinary group of lectors, where, among the numerous foreign lectors, the following names can be mentioned: Milka Kalajdziska, Mirka Misik, Patricia Marsh-Stefanovska, Ilinka Grubovik, Hariklija Trendafilovska and others, as well as the newly-acquired teaching assistants such as Violeta Milenkovska-Hristovska, Ljupco Stefanovski and Goran Stefanovski, the Department of English Language and Literature becomes equipped not only number-wise, but also quality-wise so as to continue its pedagogical-academic activities, as well as to offer new modules in the areas of British Cultural Studies and American Studies. The 1970s and the early 1980s mark the Department becoming not only an important pedagogical and academic center, but also an academic community which serves to continuously host, briefly or for longer periods, renowned foreign university professors and writers. At the same time, the Department’s library boasts of having over 15 000 titles, as well as over 16 different foreign professional and academic journals.
During the 1980s, the Department is joined by another group of exceptional teaching assistants and lectors, among who are the following: Marija Janeva, Zoze Murgoski, Zoran Anchevski, Ekaterina Babamova, Rajna Koshka-Hot, Natka Gogova, Evica Konechni, Violeta Swanson, Marija Madzar, and others. Such potential enables the Department to further expand its pedagogical activity by organizing separate English language and literature studies as a minor, for students enrolled in the other Departments at the Faculty of Philology, and at the same time it becomes responsible for ESP within the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, thus forming a special sub-department with senior lecturers, lecturers, and lectors, among who are the following: Pandora Dimovska, Frosina Korneti, Danica Cvetanovska, Biljana Grujovska-Trajkovska, Milanka Siljanovska, Ljiljana Kalinik-Ordev, and others.
During the 1990s, the Department intensifies its cooperation with the British Council and the American Information Center, as well as with numerous foreign universities, such as those in Oxford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stratford, Belgrade, Sofia, and so on. At the same time, there is yet another influx of superb members of staff, such as Dragi Mihajlovski, Eleni Buzarovska, Emilija Georgievska, Terezina Andonova, Ljupco Spasovski, Jovanka Lazarevska, Tatjana Panova-Ignjatovik, Sonja Vitanova, Anzela Dimovska and Anastazija Kirkova.
The new millennium brings with it new challenges. The number of students who are enrolled at the Department is approximately 1 200, in all four years of study. At the same time, extensive reforms take place, in accordance with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), a task that has resulted from the implementation of the Bologna Process in Higher Education in Europe. During this period, new lectors join the teaching staff, such as Biljana Naumoska, Elena Onchevska, Rumena Buzarovska, Mira Bekar, who, together with their more experienced colleagues, not only maintain and expand the renown enjoyed by the Department, but also help in the introduction of new and attractive study programs. The end of the first decade of the new millennium sees the Department with yet some more new names in teaching assistants and lectors, such as Kalina Maleska, Natasha Stojanovska, Zorica Trajkova and Milan Damjanovski.
During its existence of over several decades, the Department of English Language and Literature has offered not only very successful and attractive study programs, but has also managed to offer the Republic of Macedonia exceptionally well-prepared and able graduates in the fields of education, science, book publishing, translation, etc. Furthermore, it has also managed to profile extremely talented authors (playwrights, poets, novelists, literary reviewers, and literary theoreticians), project managers, presidents and members of the management boards of renowned cultural events, famous musicians and influential names in society. A number of members from the Department of English Language and Literature have received various awards, decorations and recognition for their pedagogical, academic and creative work, both in the country and abroad, and many of them are real pioneers in the promotion of the Macedonian language, literature and culture in the academic community on foreign soil, whether it be through their function as lecturers, visiting professors, or as the recipients of numerous scholarships and grants from top-ranking universities. The Department is a member of the following international associations and societies: ESSE (European Society for the Study of English) and MALA (Macedonian Applied Linguistics Association).
The Department of English Language and Literature has its own library with over 25 000 books and journals, under the charge of the librarian Marija Cvetkovska. At the moment, it is undergoing a process of digitalization, i.e., electronic inventory of the library contents in accordance with the COBISS program, with which the library joins the system of organization employed by the “St. Clement of Ohrid” University library.
- 1994 – a joint project carried out by the Department and the British Council, introducing British Cultural Studies in the curriculum, which started in 1998;
- 2001-2002 – TEMPUS Project for the professional development of staff involved in the teaching of translation and interpretation;
- 2001-2003 - ECML: “Cultural Mediation Foreign Language Teaching”, multi-country project – “Cultural Mediation Teaching – Learning Materials”;
- 2004-2007 – Writing University Project, a project carried out by the “Blaze Koneski” Faculty of Philology, in cooperation with the British Council – Skopje;
- 2010-2011 – a project for the introduction of American Studies in the curriculum – grant received from the American Embassy in Skopje;
- 2011 – E-library Project, put forward and led by students enrolled at the Department of English Language and Literature – received from the Alumni Grant Program
- 2012 – Dickens Bicentenary Event – a part of the international Dickens 2012 Project, organized by the British Council.
- Since 1993 - Theatre workshops with the students and their participation in amateur theatre festivals; - they received a Special Award in 2010 at the Republic Amateur Theatre Festival in Kocani.
- “Otstapka” – public debates and discussions organized by members of the Department with students, as well as well-known personalities from the field of culture, in connection with topics that affect the students.