Dr. Jesse Arlen’s lecture series on the Armenian historical tradition continues tonight at 7:00pm ET. Register by Zoom here.
If you missed last week’s lecture, the first in the series, it is available to watch on YouTube:
Dr. Jesse Arlen’s lecture series on the Armenian historical tradition continues tonight at 7:00pm ET. Register by Zoom here.
If you missed last week’s lecture, the first in the series, it is available to watch on YouTube:
Zohrab Center postdoctoral fellow and director, Dr. Jesse S. Arlen, to begin Spring 2022 lecture series at St. Nersess Seminary on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm by Zoom, Jan 20 – Feb 24.
An Overview of the Armenian Historical Tradition: Part II: Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries
This two-part lecture series introduces the audience to the Armenian historical tradition, a rich and fascinating corpus of literature with texts produced continuously from the first century after the invention of the alphabet up until the modern period.
During Part I of this lecture series (offered in Fall 2021), we covered the Armenian histories written from the fifth to tenth centuries.
In Part II, we will look at histories beginning in the eleventh century, which respond to the Seljuk invasions and the many changes brought to Armenian life, and proceed up until the early modern period, when travel accounts covered the various diasporic and merchant colonies that were now spread across the globe.
To register, click here. All are welcome.
The Zohrab Center recommends the inaugural presentation of the newly formed International Association of Armenian Librarians and Archivists (IAALA): “The Armenian Digital Landscape” by Tigran Zargaryan, to take place by Zoom on January 22, 2022 at 1:00pm ET.
Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to request the Zoom link.
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.
To register for the Webinar, please visit: https://bit.ly/NAASRSiekierski
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.
The memoir is exclusively written as a first person narrative, detailing Vartanian’s origins in Northeastern, Turkey. Vartanian was born in the village of Adish, located in the Turkish Armenian vilayet (province) of Diarbekir. Residing amid the serene town, his family enjoyed a relatively stable life. He and his wife, Yeghisapet, had six children. Four were boys; Garabed, his oldest child, Levon, Vartan, and Vahak, his youngest child. They also had two daughters, Hripsime and Azniv.
Armenia’s greatest river, the Euphrates, passed three miles from the village, and Vartanian alludes to the tens of thousands of Armenian corpses lying at the mouth of the river. The 1911 – 1918 wars in the region left the Armenians in the hands of the ruthless Turkish enemy.
Adish’s gardens and vineyards were not sufficient to provide livelihood for the village’s fifteen hundred inhabitants. Often, many were obliged to work in Istanbul or abroad, and then return to their homes to spend time with their families.
Vartanian says that circumstances took a turn with the onset of World War I, prompting the Armenian Genocide. With the support of the German allyship, the Turkish government implemented a set of policies that eventually guided the systematic destruction of Armenian identity in the Ottoman Empire, and the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians who were living in the region. The Armenian Genocide is officially the world’s first documented Genocide, and the first Genocide of the 20st century. The Genocide involved death marches through the Syrian Desert and the forced islamization of Armenian women and children— a few among many heinous strategies perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks.
At the start of the Genocide, Vartanian was confronted with a difficult decision. For the benefit of their families, many Armenian men would immigrate to surrounding countries and cities to earn a living. In many cases, men moved to Istanbul, Europe, the Middle East, and in other cases, some, like Hagop Vartanian, would make the long voyage to the United States. Vartanian documents the path that led him to Chicago, and the frustration he met while supporting his family in war-torn Armenia.
On August 7, 1909 Vartanian’s ship finally dropped anchor in the harbor of New York City. Leaving the city of Mezre, Turkey, a month previously, Vartanian eventually settled in the American city of Chicago. He lived there until he went back to the ‘fatherland’, about nine years later, in the summer of 1919. During his time in Chicago, Vartanian was able to secure a stable job at Griess Pfleeger Tanning Co. with a weekly pay range averaging about $25.
Through his chronicles, Vartanian conveys his anguish to the reader, as he learns of the atrocities being carried out in his homeland. In 1914, while the European World Wars began, he said “sadness seized me, for I saw that while the great powers were occupied with the wars, Turkey would have a favorable opportunity to masacre and annihilate the Armenians.” He later shares that he regrets not immigrating his eldest son, Garabed, to the United States. He wanted his son to focus on his studies instead of labor, yet now his fate seemed to be in the hands of the Turks. Vartanian became increasingly concerned with the advancement of the World Wars in 1915.
A month later, reports of massacres and hangings reached the United States. Those reports included details of Turkish mandates deporting all Armenians to Mesopotamia. In September of 1915, even more devastating news had reached Chicago – an increase in massacres, famine, deportations and rape across the Armenian territories.
On August 15, 1919, the bitter notice of death appeared in the mail, his wife’s passing. Consequently, his children were then put in an orphanage in Aleppo, and he delayed his travel plans to see them.
A year later, thanks to the conclusion of the world wars, Vartanain was able to travel aboard the ship that would reach Le Havre, France. On May 28, 1920, Vartanian was at last reunited with his children in Aleppo. Eventually, Vartanian and his four children moved to the United States, where they took up residence in Chicago.
Grappling with the historical context of the time, the memoir explores the economic and socio-political realities Vartanian, along with thousands of other Armenian men abroad supporting their families back home, had experienced during the Genocide.
Vartanian presents a unique experience within the constructs of the Genocide – he witnesses familial loss and his homeland’s destruction, while travel restrictions render him incapable of seeing them. Today, the majority of Adish’s population is to be found in the United States, as a result of the destructive anti-Armenian policies and extermination agenda of the nascent Turkish state. During the Genocide, his wife and eldest daughter became ill and died, and his eldest son was killed.
The beautiful account takes the reader along Vartanian’s journey moving to the United States, exploring a father’s responsibility to support his family. The cycle of the anguish he dealt with while not being able to help his family members survive was later resolved in part when he reunified with those that did.
Dr. Roberta Ervine translated Hagop Vartanians story from the original diary manuscript. She holds her PhD from Columbia University. Her dissertation research led her to Jerusalem, where she lived in the Armenian Monastery of St. James as a disciple of His Grace Abp. Norayr Bogharian, curator of manuscripts. In 2001, she returned to the United States to teach at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, where she lectures on topics related to the history of Armenian Christianity and Armenian Christian thought.
This account is among many gencoide survivor stories available to read at the Zohrab Information Center, which readers and the interested public are encouraged to visit. The center is open Monday through Friday by appointment. The book can be found here:
Zohrab catalog: https://dac.kohalibrary.com/app/work/10067
Emily Ekshian is a master’s student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her concentrations include international and investigative reporting. Emily is also an intern at the Zohrab Information Center, where she seeks to explore the unique experiences of Armenian Genocide survivors.
Zohrab/Fordham Postdoc and Director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen’s Fall Public Lecture series at Saint Nersess Armenian Seminary is now available to stream on YouTube. The six sessions cover the major medieval Armenian historians and histories composed between the fifth and tenth centuries. Part II of the series will take place in the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester.
A playlist of the full series is available here.
A resource guide is available here.
Series Description: The Armenian historical tradition is rich and well developed, with texts written in this genre produced continuously from the first century after the invention of the alphabet up until the modern period. Of all the Armenian literary genres, it is the histories that have received the most attention from modern scholars, thanks to their importance for our knowledge of the Near East and Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the Armenians who wrote their histories did not conceive of history in the same way we do today, nor did they approach their topics with the same preoccupations and concerns of modern historians. In this six-week course, we will seek to approach the Armenian histories on their own terms, attempting to understand the context in which they were produced, the religious and imaginative world of the authors who composed them, and the goals and purposes that motivated both the patrons who sponsored them and the authors who wrote them. Proceeding chronologically, this semester our goal is to cover twelve major Armenian histories from the fifth to tenth centuries (about two per session). At the same time, we will introduce participants to books and online resources where they may acquire the primary texts and gain access to important secondary materials to facilitate deeper study on their own.
Unfortunately, we will have to postpone tomorrow’s scheduled event — the book release of Shahé Mankerian’s History of Forgetfulness. Shahé is the principal of St. Gregory Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian School in Pasadena, California, and learned today that he had close exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. So, he is not coming to NY and we are going to reschedule the event in early 2022, date TBA. We share in your disappointment and will be in touch with a rescheduled date.
Today on “Giving Tuesday” purchase a book for the Zohrab Information Center’s Research Library.
The Zohrab Information Center is a research and teaching facility and cultural center that promotes the full range of Armenian studies and assists students, scholars, the Armenian community, and general public in deepening their appreciation for Armenian history, civilization, and culture, especially within their overwhelmingly Christian ambit.
At the core of this mission stands the vast collection of Armenian printed material in our library, which is one of the best in the Western hemisphere thanks to generous support and donations.
Help us expand our holdings of recent books published in Armenian studies by buying a book (or two or three!) to add to our library. We have compiled a wish list of books on Amazon.
Zohrab Information Center
630 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10016
Let us know how you would like your donation to be noted on the book and in our catalog:
option 1: “Donated by NAME”
option 2: “Donated by NAME in memory of NAME”
Note: After you purchase the book it will automatically be removed from the list, so as to avoid duplicate purchases from multiple donors.
For questions, email: email@example.com
Zohrab/Fordham Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Jesse S. Arlen edited and translated the texts for the Armenian section of a new volume that presents English translations of important texts from the Eastern Christian (Oriental Orthodox) traditions, many of which are appearing in English for the first time. This important volume, which also includes introductions to the each of the languages represented, aims to make the Eastern Christian literary traditions more accessible to a wide and scholarly audience. The volume contains Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, Coptic, and Ethiopic Christian texts from late antiquity to the early modern period.
To purchase the book visit the publisher Eerdman’s website, where it is currently 25% off.
English translations of Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, Coptic, and Ethiopic Christian texts from late antiquity to the early modern period
In order to make the writings of Eastern Christianity more widely accessible this volume offers a collection of significant texts from various Eastern Christian traditions, many of which are appearing in English for the first time. The internationally renowned scholars behind these translations begin each section with an informative historical introduction, so that anyone interested in learning more about these understudied groups can more easily traverse their diverse linguistic, cultural, and literary traditions. A boon to scholars, students, and general readers, this ample resource expands the scope of Christian history so that communities beyond Western Christendom can no longer be ignored.
Jesse S. Arlen, Aaron M. Butts, Jeff W. Childers, Mary K. Farag, Philip Michael Forness, John C. Lamoreaux, Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent, Erin Galgay Walsh, J. Edward Walters, and Jeffrey Wickes.
Table of Contents
Part One: Syriac
1. The Doctrina Addai
2. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns against Heresies 3 and 53
3. Martyrdom of Mīles, Abursam, and Sinay
4. Jacob of Serugh, The Fourth Homily on Cain and Abel
5. Narsai, On the Canaanite Woman
6. Simeon of Beth Arsham, Letter on the Ḥimyarite Martyrs
7. The Syriac Life of Mary of Egypt
8. Timothy I, Letter 47
9. Theodore bar Koni, Scholion, Mēmrā 10
Part Two: Armenian
1. Koriwn, The Life of Mashtotsʿ
2. Eznik of Koghb, Refutation of the Sects (or, On God)
3. The Teaching of Saint Grigor
4. Anania of Narek, On This Transitory World
5. Grigor of Narek, Book of Lamentation, Discourse 1, Discourse 88
6. Nersēs Shnorhali, Hymn for the Sunrise Hour, Instructional Preface to a Prayer of Nersēs, Prayer of Nersēs
Part Three: Georgian
1. Martyrdom of St. Shushanik
2. John Sabanisże, Martyrdom of Habo, the Perfumer from Baghdad
3. George the Athonite, The Lives of John the Iberian, Euthymios the Athonite, and George the Minor, The Life of George the Athonite
4. Mark the Deacon, The Life of Porphyry of Gaza
Part Four: Arabic
1. Homilies on the Gospel Readings for Holy Week
2. Theodore Abū Qurrah, That God Is Not Weak
3. The Disputation of Abraham of Tiberias
4. Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥāq, How to Discern the True Religion
5. Miracles of Saint George
6. Commentary on the Pentateuch
Part Five: Coptic
1. Life of Pachomius
2. Shenoute of Atripe, I Have Been Reading the Holy Gospels
3. Pseudo-Dioscorus of Alexandria, Encomium on Macarius of Tkōou
4. The Anaphora of Saint Thomas the Apostle
5. Christophoria, Letter to the Comes Mena
6. John of Paralos, Homily on the Archangel Michael and the Blasphemous Books of the Heretics
7. Pseudo-Cyril of Alexandria, Encomium Interpreting Part of the Apocalypse of John the Apostle of Christ Jesus
Part Six: Ethiopic
1. Select Inscriptions of ˁEzana
2. Homily on Frumentius
3. Synaxarion on Yared
4. Glory of the Kings (Kǝbrä Nägäśt)
5. Miracles of Mary
6. Zär’a Yaʿəqob, Book of the Trinity
7. Prayer Amulet: MS Duke Ethiopic 15
“Here is a really excellent and most welcome volume: it aims to provide ‘a series of windows’ into the literatures of the various languages of the Christian Middle East. For each language, well-chosen excerpts, ranging from four to nine in number, are introduced and translated, accompanied by helpful bibliographical guidance in each case for readers who wish to explore further. The book provides both the general reader and scholars in related areas with a wonderful gateway into little-known areas of early Christian literature.”
— Sebastian Brock, University of Oxford
“Scholars and students have rarely had easy access to primary sources across the array of continents, languages, and cultures where ancient Christians forged their places. This volume responds to that need. Concise and efficient, it offers a rich assortment of texts from an often-unfamiliar variety of language traditions. Demonstrating fundamental commonalities as well as distinctive traits for each, this volume is a marvelously rich entry into global Christianity over its first millennium and more, far to the east of Europe’s shores.”
— Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Brown University
“Providing short introductions to the various Eastern churches alongside fresh translations of some of their most important texts, this ‘dream team’ of contributors has created the first truly accessible entryway into the diverse traditions associated with Eastern Christianity. Thanks to their efforts, there is no longer any excuse for the history of Christianity to be taught as the history simply of Western Christianity. For anyone interested in understanding Christianity as a global religion—whether professor, graduate student, seminarian, undergraduate, or practitioner—Eastern Christianity is nothing short of required reading.”
— Michael Philip Penn, Stanford University
Come to the Zohrab Center on Thursday, December 2nd at 7:00pm ET for an in-person poetry reading and the book release of Los Angeles poet Shahé Mankerian’s debut collection History of Forgetfulness (Fly on the Wall Press, 2021). Joining Shahé will be NY area writers and scholars, who will read from the collection as well as their own work: Nancy Agabian, Christopher Atamian, Alina Gregorian, Alan Semerdjian, Alina Gharabegian, & Lola Koundakjian.
Book signing and reception to follow!
Shahé Mankerian releases his critically-acclaimed debut collection, taking readers back to 1975 Beirut, where an un-civil war is brewing. Mankerian asks, “Who said war didn’t love / the children?” setting the tone for a darkly humorous collection in which memories of love, religion and childhood are entangled amongst street snipers and the confusion of misguided bombings.
Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School and the director of mentorship at the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). This debut collection has been a finalist at the Bibby First Book Competition, the Crab Orchard Poetry Open Competition, the Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Award, and the White Pine Press Poetry Prize.
Distinguished California poet Shahé Mankerian reminds us in this powerful debut poetry collection that we forget painful memories deliberatively, yet his gut-punching poems relive for himself as well as for us the horrific shredding of humanity that war, especially civil war, inflicts. A survivor of the Lebanese civil war in the late 20th century, Mankerian unspools in devastating simplicity and directness, in seemingly inconsequential scenes, the horrors and suffering of children, parents, neighbors, schoolmates, friends, lovers navigating daily bombardments, scavenging for food, dodging snipers’ bullets, and trying to find a modicum of normalcy among the ruins. One poem, “Continuum,” sums beautifully the people’s daily attempts to keep their fractured lives afloat: patching broken windows, cooking meals, clearing debris—in essence struggling to forget the chaos that surrounds them. In the process, Mankerian’s clear-eyed, honest poetry paints unforgettable pictures of human beings we relate to, ordinary heroes and victims that sadden us but uplift us with their resiliency and stoic determination to prevail.
–Thelma T. Reyna
Poet Laureate Emerita; Author of Dearest Papa: A Memoir in Poems
In the ironically titled The History of Forgetfulness – ironic because the poems in this book are riveting and indelible – Shahé Mankerian never leaves a reader un-engaged. In these accessible and irresistible poems, a character wonders if he should tell his mother the lentil soup needs salt, ponders the laws of war, and prescribes a generic brand Jesus. The great Russian poet Osip Mandelstam wanted poetry to achieve “a heightened perception of what already existed.” That is precisely what Mankerian does in this eminently readable and memorable collection. Buy three copies: read one, give one to a friend, keep the third so you’ll have it handy when you wear the first one out.
–Ron Koertge, widely published for more than fifty years, has poems in two volumes of Best American Poetry and a recent Pushcart Prize. He is the author of “Negative Space,” short-listed for a 2018 Oscar in Animated Short Films.
As we proceed through these sharply etched memories of a childhood in wartime Lebanon, it seems increasing remarkable that the poet emerged alive, and even more remarkable that he was able to convey the violence and mayhem—both in and outside the home—in such spare but vivid, harrowing poems. They are not marred by the dreaded bugaboos, sentimentality, melodrama, or self-pity. Shahé Mankerian recounts, as we sometimes say, the sort of thing you wouldn’t know unless you’d been there, lived it. Imagine a spot on the globe where if children playing hide-and-seek come upon the rotting body of a woman, it’ll be up to them to bury her.
There are many such spots on the globe. However, few survivors emerge with the will, wherewithal, talent, and opportunity to tell their stories with such power. Their story and that of thousands like them. No, millions.
Author of Open 24 Hours – Winner of 2013 Blue Lynx Prize
During the Karantina Massacre,
Father wired the stereo directly
to the generator in the basement
so that he could block the bloodshed
with the Requiem. From our bedroom
window, the rise of the satanic smoke
swallowed the Palestinian shanty town.
Amadeus seemed demure next to
the screaming children. Father
pulled the abat-jours and demanded
we give Mozart our attention.
The timpani competed with the rat-
a-tat-tat of Kalashnikovs.
I felt lightheaded from the mazout
fumes of the generator. “Son, listen!”
Kyrie, eleison. Christe, eleison.
I preferred the sirens over the harrowing
howl of the angels concocted by Wolfgang.
Like Eliot’s Prufrock
Like a slab of meat etherized upon a table,
she felt obligated to clean her fiancé. A nurse
pulled the curtain and left her alone with a limp
rag in a bedpan full of warm, lathery water.
From the unfurnished apartment to the ambulance,
she used her unfitted wedding gown to wrap
his punctured belly with shrapnel shells.
The doctors cut the dress like a gauze. She dabbed
his foaming mouth with the veil. They didn’t have
a balcony anymore. Torn pages from his dissertation
covered a pool of blood. Soap residue stained
his torso, the floor tiles, his diaphragm.
Please note, as per the New York City Covid-19 Executive Order 225, proof of vaccination, as well as an I.D., will be required upon entry. Proof of vaccination may include a CDC Vaccination Card, an NYC Vaccination Record, NYC Covid Safe App, Excelsior Pass, or an official immunization record from outside NYC or the U.S., showing proof of receipt of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use or licensed for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization. Negative COVID 19 Tests are not accepted.