On Wednesday, January 26th, at 7:00pm ET, Konrad Siekierski, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London will deliver a lecture entitled “The Materiality of Armenian Christianity: Gospel Books as Sacred Objects.”
This Zoom Webinar is jointly sponsored by the The Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University, The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research, & The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center.
The Materiality of Armenian Christianity: Gospel Books as Sacred Objects
Armenian Gospel Books do not only contain the Word of God to be read by priests and the faithful, but some also act as sacred objects endowed with supernatural power and agency. As such, they are venerated during the feasts of the Armenian Apostolic Church and as ‘home saints’ – family relics held in unofficial shrines. Based on several years of ethnographic research in Armenia and recent anthropological literature on religion as a sensual and material phenomenon, I will discuss how Gospel Books (and some other religious texts) make visible the invisible, touchable the untouchable, and – ultimately – reachable the unreachable for Armenian Christians today. Furthermore, I will explore the Armenian veneration of home saints in the context of Soviet and post-Soviet Armenia’s changing socio-political landscape, the decay of traditional village life in the country, and the theft of many privately owned Gospel Books.
Konrad Siekierski is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London. Based upon ten years of ethnographic research, his doctoral thesis, A Vow to Go: Religion, Reunion, and Roots in Armenian Pilgrimage, examines the different forms that pilgrimage takes today in the Armenian culture. In 2021, he conducted a research project Gospel Books as Home Saints: Between Vernacular Christianity and Armenian National Heritage, funded by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research. Currently he is a recipient of The Orthodox Christian Studies NEH Dissertation Completion Fellowship at Fordham University. Konrad edited two collective volumes and authored several articles in academic journals.
October 20th (Wednesday), 7:00pm ET Krapar & Kini / Classical Armenian & Wine reading group with Bp. Daniel Findikyan on liturgical prayer text For Zoom link, email: firstname.lastname@example.org | https://krapar.org/
October 27th (Wednesday), 7:00pm ET IN PERSON in Guild Hall Enrichment Evening — “Diaspora, Homeland, and Economic Development” with Dr. Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan Also available by Zoom: https://bit.ly/3AnnLXZ
November 10th (Wednesday), 7:00pm ET IN PERSON in Guild Hall Enrichment Evening — Book presentation: Black Garden Aflame: The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict in the Soviet and Russian Press with Dr. Artyom Tonoyan Also available by Zoom: https://bit.ly/3nm9uGL
November 17th (Wednesday), 7:00pm ET Krapar & Kini / Classical Armenian & Wine reading group with Ashley Bozian on violent and graphic scenes in medieval Armenian histories For Zoom link, email: email@example.com | https://krapar.org/
December 2nd (Thursday), 7:00pm ET IN PERSON in Zohrab Center Enrichment Evening — Book Release & Poetry Reading: Shahé Mankerian’s debut poetry collection History of Forgetfulness with readings by NY area writers/intellectuals Nancy Agabian, Christopher Atamian, Alina Gregorian, Alan Semerdjian, Alina Gharabegian, & Lola Koundakjian
December 13th (Monday), 7:00pm ET Krapar & Kini / Classical Armenian & Wine reading group with Andrew Kayaian on Eznik of Koghb For Zoom link, email: firstname.lastname@example.org | https://krapar.org/
all attendees of in person events must provide proof of COVID vaccination
The Zohrab Information Center’s series Krapar & Kini (Գրաբար եւ Գինի / Classical Armenian & Wine) will resume on October 20th, 2021 at 7:00pm. This first session of Fall 2021 will be led by our beloved primate and renowned liturgical scholar Bp. Daniel Findikyan, who will be leading us through a liturgical text TBD.
Visit the new website created by Krapar & Kini member, Matt Sarkisian, for more info: https://krapar.org/
Email email@example.com to be added to the mailing list & for meeting details (Zoom link / password).
The recording for the First Session of the Vemkar/Zohrab Classical Armenian Series “Christ as Hope” is available to stream on the Zohrab Information Center’s YouTube channel. Subscribe to the channel to be notified when future videos in the series are posted.
In the first session, Jesse Arlen, Interim Director of ZIC, presented Gregory of Narek’s “Ode for the Ascension” (Տաղ Համբարձման ի Գրիգոր Նարեկացւոյն).
After the presentation, participants engaged in 20–30 minutes of discussion.
The sessions will continue each Wednesday evening through September 1st at 7:00pm ET. Register in advance for the Zoom sessions here. No knowledge of Classical Armenian is required.
Future sessions will be led by Fr. Ghevond Ajamian, Fr. Nigoghos Aznavourian, Julia Hintlian, Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan, Ani Shahinian, and Dn. Ezras Tellalian.
The Eastern Diocese, under the auspices of Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel, has entered a new agreement with Fordham University, which will reconfigure the director’s position of the Diocese’s Zohrab Information Center into a post-doctoral fellowship.
Under the new arrangement, the directorship of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center has become a rotating position, of two to three years’ duration, where each successive director will simultaneously hold a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University.
The position will now be officially designated the “Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Armenian Christian Studies, and Director at the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center.” Applications are currently being solicited from qualified candidates, with a submission deadline of May 15, 2021.
The arrangement with Fordham University was pioneered by Dr. Christopher Sheklian during his tenure as Zohrab Center director (2018-2020), with the active encouragement of Bishop Daniel.
“I want to express my thanks to Dr. Sheklian for proposing this exciting new vision for the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center of the Eastern Diocese,” said the Primate, himself a former director of the center. “I am fully convinced that this exciting plan will breathe new life into the center, bringing it into the Third Millennium—and thereby more effectively realizing the expectations of its founder, the late Mrs. Dolores Zohrab-Liebmann.”
“The plan propels the Zohrab Center to the academic forefront of Armenian Studies globally; draws it more tangibly into Armenian Church Studies, specifically through St. Nersess Seminary; attracts and supports young scholars in Armenian Christianity; and establishes the Zohrab Center more securely into the Diocese’s mission and efforts to Build Up the Body of Christ,” the Primate said.
A Rarity in the Academic World
The Zohrab Center’s collaborator in this new undertaking, Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center, is a rarity in the academic world: a center dedicated to the study of Orthodox Christianity, which is unaffiliated to a seminary. In recent years the two co-founding directors, George Demacopoulous and Aristotle Papanikoloaou, have worked to include the Oriental Orthodox churches in the center’s orbit, and to advocate a broadly ecumenical approach to the study of Christian Orthodoxy.
“By working with the Orthodox Christian Studies Center, the Eastern Diocese, through its unique institution of the Zohrab Information Center, has the possibility to support and even transform the academic study of Armenian Christianity in America,” said Dr. Christopher Sheklian in a description of the vision behind the new agreement.
“At this moment, there are only a handful of academic positions in Armenian Studies in the United States, and other than at St. Nersess Seminary, there is not a single position dedicated specifically to the study of Armenian Christianity,” he said. “Through this joint venture, the Diocese will simultaneously ensure the dynamic future of the Zohrab Information Center while offering crucial support to the study of Armenian Christianity in America.”
As a practical matter, the director will be based at the Zohrab Center itself, which occupies a suite of offices, research library, and presentation facility at the Diocesan Center in New York. As an integral member of the Diocesan staff, the director will be expected to contribute to Diocesan ministries projects, and the cultural and educational life of the community. The agreement makes provision for the director to spend some time in research and teaching at Fordham University (located in uptown Manhattan), and stipulates that one day per week should be spent at St. Nersess Seminary’s Armonk, NY, campus.
The position is open to candidates with a Ph.D. in a field related to Armenian Studies, and command of at least one dialect of Armenian. According to the terms of the agreement between the Diocese and Fordham, the selection committee assessing applicants will include a representative from the Diocesan Council and a member of St. Nersess Seminary’s faculty; additionally the Diocesan Council must approve the committee’s selection before any candidate is sent to Fordham University for its approval.
About the Zohrab Center
The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center was established by the Eastern Diocese three decades ago as a resource, research, and teaching facility to promote Armenian studies, and to assist students, scholars, the Armenian community and general public in deepening their appreciation for Armenian faith, history, civilization, and culture. It was established through the generous gift of Mrs. Dolores Zohrab Liebmann, in memory of her parents: Krikor and Clara Zohrab.
Krikor Zohrab (pictured above) was one of the towering Armenian intellectual leaders in Constantinople, who lost his life in the Genocide of 1915.
His Holiness Vasken I, the late Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, presided over the Zohrab Center’s dedication ceremony on November 8, 1987, during the primacy of the late Archbishop Torkom Manoogian.
Since its founding, the Zohrab Center has enjoyed a distinguished lineage of scholars serving as director and assistant director, including Fr. Krikor Maksoudian, Rachel Goshgarian, Aram Arkun, Fr. (now Bishop) Daniel Findikyan, and Christopher Sheklian. At present, its interim director is Jesse Arlen, a scholar in the field of Armenian theology and early Christian studies who is completing his doctorate at UCLA.
Under every administrator, the heart of the center has always been its research library, whose holdings exceed 40,000 books, periodicals, photographs, and assorted resources in all areas of Armenian Studies.
Of special note would be the center’s collection of Armenian periodicals and newspapers from across the world; its vast collection of 19th/20th-century Armenian literature; and a precious treasury of rare books and manuscripts. A number of titles are found in no other library in the western hemisphere.
On Wednesday, April 28th at 7:00pm (ET), the Zohrab Center — in collaboration with the Society for Armenian Studies and the Fresno State Armenian Studies Program — will host an evening with the contributors to the English translation of Bedros Keljik’s Armenian-American Sketches, winner of the Dr. Sona Aroian Award for Best Armenian Studies Book (Translation) in 2021, awarded by NAASR. Register in advance for the Zoom event here.
Armenians began arriving to America in large numbers at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. They established themselves in communities throughout the United States, maintaining their Armenian culture, while also becoming acclimated to life in America. In Armenian-American Sketches, author Bedros Keljik brings to life this period in Armenian-American history. With keen observation Keljik provides the reader with an often-humorous insight into that life, with all of its sadness and joy, with the sense of community, and with the hard work and challenges faced by the immigrants. This is a book which will appeal to any reader who seeks to understand the immigrant experience in the United States.
Armenian-American Sketches was published as Volume 11 in the Armenian Series of The Press at California State University Fresno.
If you missed last night’s talk, “Voices from Inside the Wall: Two Contemporary Armenian Texts on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict” by Arakel Minassian, you may watch the recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/-QNX5W0GiPI
Subscribe to the channel to be notified of future videos.
The Zohrab Information Center and St. Nersess Seminary will co-sponsor a day-long symposium dedicated to the life and vision of His Holiness Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian, a true titan among the Armenian people in modern times.
The symposium is titled, Soldier of the Light: The Aspirations of Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian.” It marks the 150th anniversary of Hovsepian’s birth and the centennial of the Battle of Sardarabad (in which he fought). It will take place on Saturday, March 24, at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, 486 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY.
Speakers include Dr. Abraham Terian, Dr. Roberta Ervine, Dr. Christine Maranci, Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, and Mr. Nubar Kupelian. V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Center and Professor at St. Nersess Seminary, will moderate. Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will preside.
A Man of Staggering Accomplishments Abounding in Grace
Before being elected Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian (1867-1952) served as Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America during the turbulent years following the assassination of Archbishop Ghevont Tourian in New York in 1933. Born in Artsakh, Armenia, he earned graduate degrees from the best universities in Europe, encouraged the Armenian troops on the front lines of the Battle of Sardarabad, chaired the Department of Archaeology and Art History at Yerevan State University, led pioneering archaeological expeditions in western Armenia, published learned books on the art of medieval Armenian manuscript illumination, and previously obscure chapters in Armenian history, and inspired countless people through his preaching and teaching. Through it all Hovsepian tirelessly summoned his flock to rise up from pettiness and division, and to embrace the dignity, richness, and eternal values of Christian life as embodied in Armenian art, culture and history and above all, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Church.
On this occasion a volume of selected essays and sermons by the Catholicos, translated for the first time into English by Dr. Ervine and Fr. Findikyan, has been published. Those present for the symposium will receive a complimentary copy of Toward Light and Life: Reflections of Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian.
The March 24 conference starts at 10:30 a.m. (10 a.m. check-in) and concludes at 4 p.m., with a light lunch served at midday. The symposium and lunch are free and open to all interested.
Please contact St. Nersess Seminary at (914) 273-0200 to reserve your seat. SPACE IS LIMITED.
The event has is generously underwritten by Mr. and Mrs. Berge and Vera Setrakian.
Have you always wanted to read Franz Werfel’s 1933 masterpiece, but haven’t had the chance? Were you inspired by the film The Promise to learn more about what happened on a mountain named Musa Dagh in 1915?
On the occasion of the landmark historical novel’s 85th anniversary, you are invited to join the Zohrab Center’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh Book Club on Thursday, April 12 at 7 pm in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.
Aida Zilelian, Elaine Merguerian, Haig Chahinian, Harry Koumrouyan, and Nancy Agabian will recite brief excerpts from the book and explain how the text resonated with them.
Others wishing to share their own responses to the book will be invited to step up to the OPEN MIC. Each participant will be limited to 3 minutes.
The Forty Days of Musa Dagh was written by the Austrian-Bohemian Jewish playwright, novelist and poet Franz Werfel in German in 1933. The historical novel was inspired by Werfel’s travels to Syria in 1930, where he met countless Armenian refugee survivors of the Genocide, most of them living in wretched, hopeless conditions. The acclaimed novel brought world-wide attention to the Armenian Genocide.
Musa Dagh (Mountain of Moses) is located just inside the current border of Turkey and Syria overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. In July 1915, six Armenian villages in the region mounted a successful resistance to the attacking Turkish army by converging on the mountain. The Armenians held back the Turks for 53 days until they were evacuated by Allied French warships. The event is depicted at the end of the recent Genocide film, The Promise.
The ZIC’s Forty Days of Musa Dagh Book Club grew out of a group of New York area Armenian writers who came together recently, guided by NYU Gallatin Professor Nancy Agabian and writer Haig Chahinian, to read and discuss The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Energized by the portrayal of their people fighting back during the Genocide, they talked about how Franz Werfel’s novelization touched them individually, and as a whole.
All are encouraged to read or re-read The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, and to share their thoughts and reflections on the book on April 12. Those wishing to speak are asked to contact Haig Chahinian at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up and/or to receive tips on reading the work. All are welcome to attend. A reception will follow.
Nancy Agabian is the author of Princess Freak, a poetry collection; and Me as her again, a memoir. Her novel The Fear of Large and Small Nations was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially-Engaged Fiction. A past ZIC speaker and friend, Nancy teaches creative writing at NYU and through her Heightening Stories workshops. nancyagabian.com.
Haig Chahinian’s writing on parenting, race, and life as he knows it has appeared in The Washington Post, O The Oprah Magazine, and the New York Times. For clips, see chahinian.com. When he’s not churning out words, he runs a career counseling practice helping people find more fulfillment at work.
Harry Koumrouyan was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, from parents who fled the Ottoman Empire. He started his career as a teacher before joining the administration
first as a school principal and later as the head of HR. He has written two novels in French, where the Armenian theme plays an important role. He has one son, Adrien, age 28.
Elaine Merguerian is Communications Director at Asia Society, where she promotes the organization’s arts and cultural programming. Before settling in New York, she worked in Washington, D.C. for the federal and local governments, and the Armenian Assembly of America. A native of Massachusetts, she earned a B.A. in English literature from Wellesley College. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Aida Zilelian is a New York City writer. Her novel The Legacy of Lost Things (Bleeding Heart Publications) was the recipient of the 2014 Tololyan Literary Award. Her stories have been published in over 25 journals and several anthologies. She has been featured on NPR, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Kirkus Reviews. She is also the curator of Boundless Tales, the longest-running reading series in Queens, New York. She recently completed her second novel, The Last Echo Through the Plains.
(NOTE: AN EARLIER VERSION OF THIS POST CONTAINED GAVE THE WRONG DATE FOR THIS LECTURE. THE EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE ON THURSDAY, MARCH 1 2018).
Robin Darling Young, Associate Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC will speak at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, March 1 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.
[CLICK HERE to download a full schedule of the Zohrab Center’s Spring 2018 enrichment events]
The specialist in early Christian history and thought will present a lecture entitled, A Righteous King for Armenia: The Early Historians and their Political Theology.
When Armenia became Christian, its leaders — and later, its writers — had to rethink their country’s politics. Professor Darling Young will explore how the earliest Armenian historians adapted biblical interpretation and political ideas to describe and measure their own rulers and imagine the first Christian nation.
An accomplished interpreter and historian of early Christianity, Robin Darling Young has published widely on topics in the history of early Christianity and its thought, including the areas of scriptural interpretation, the history of asceticism and monastic thought, and the Christian cultures of ancient Syria and Armenia.
In 2015 she hosted a symposium at Catholic University entitled, From Victims to Victors: The New Armenian Saints of 1915, which brought together Armenian, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox scholars to discuss the significance and ramifications of the canonization of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. She has also lectured at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary.
The lecture is free and open to the public. CLICK HERE for a color brochure. For further information contact the Zohrab Information Center at(212) 686-0710 or email@example.com.