It is with great pleasure that the Zohrab Information Center announces its next Enrichment Evening using the Video Conferencing platform Zoom. Due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the Zohrab Information Center is currently closed and all in-person activities have been suspended while we all do our part to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. With that in mind, we have moved our Enrichment Evenings online. We are thrilled that Nora Lessersohn, PhD Student in U.S. History at University College London, will give the Enrichment Evening presentation on Thursday, April 23 at 7 PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) online via Zoom. Her talk is entitled “Ottoman in New York: How America’s First Armenian Celebrity Brought Constantinople to Manhattan (1834-1895).”
To participate, you will need to download Zoom (zoom.us). Then, to join the event itself, you will need to enter the Meeting ID and password. To receive the Meeting ID and password, please email the Director at zohrabcenter@ . Please note that if you attended the previous online Enrichment Evening we will use the same Meeting ID and password. If you participated last time, unless you have lost the information, you don’t need to email to RSVP. Simply join us using the Meeting ID and password at 7 PM on April 23rd. New participants should email the Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event will also be Livestreamed to the Zohrab Information Center’s Facebook page.
“Ottoman in New York: How America’s First Armenian Celebrity Brought Constantinople to Manhattan (1834-1895)” will explore the life and work of America’s first Armenian New Yorker, Christopher Oscanyan. Born in 1818 in Constantinople, Oscanyan spent over half his life in New York City. During that time, he served as a writer, entrepreneur, lecturer, diplomat, and translator, and became friends with American luminaries including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Abraham Lincoln.
Over the course of 60 years, Oscanyan dedicated himself to promoting good relations between the Ottoman Empire and the United States. Between 1853 and 1863, alone, he curated and managed an Oriental and Turkish Museum in London (1854); opened a short-lived Turkish Coffee House on Broadway (1855); authored a book, The Sultan and His People (1857); gave lectures throughout the United States on topics such as “Turkish Manners and Customs,” and “The Women of the East;” and published, right in the middle of the Civil War, an album of photographs depicting himself and others wearing traditional Ottoman attire (1863). In 1868, he was appointed the first- ever Ottoman Consul General in New York. And, as late as 1893, he even wrote the libretto for a comic opera titled “The Sultana.”
This talk will focus mostly on his work in New York City: an attempt to evoke the landscape of Oscanyan’s Ottoman Armenian Manhattan.
Nora Lessersohn is a PhD student in U.S. History at University College London, supported by a Calouste Gulbenkian Armenian Studies Scholarship. She earned her A.M. in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University (2015) and her A.B. in the Study of Religion at Harvard College (2009). She is writing a dissertation on the life of Christopher Oscanyan and Ottoman-American relations in the 19th century.