Sophene Books and the Dawn of a New Era for Classical and Medieval Armenian Literature

A wonderful new publishing initiative by Sophene Books now makes classical and medieval Armenian texts available in dual language editions, with Classical Armenian and English on facing pages. Some of the texts available include Yeghishe’s History of Vardan and the Armenian War, Matthew of Edessa’s Chronicle, Sebeos’ History, and many others.

The Zohrab Information Center’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Director, Dr. Jesse S. Arlen, wrote an article for the Armenian Mirror-Spectator on the importance of this new series for all interested in Classical Armenian and its literary treasure: Sophene Books and the Dawn of a New Era for Classical and Medieval Armenian Literature

Zohrab Center Now Open to Visitors (by Appointment) & Recordings of Vemkar/ZIC Classical Armenian Series

We are pleased to announce that the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center is now open to visitors (by appointment only)!

After nearly a year and a half of the research library being closed, we are eager to welcome back scholars, researchers, and any others interested in making use of the vast collection of materials.

To schedule a time to visit, please contact the director, Dr. Jesse Arlen, at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or call 212-686-0710 (ext. 126).

We are also pleased to announce that recordings for the Vemkar/Zohrab Classical Armenian Series “Christ as Hope” are available to watch on YouTube.

Recent sessions include:

Hymns for the Feast of the Assumption with Fr. Nigoghos Aznavourian

Ephrem the Syrian’s Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron with Julia Hintlian

“On Prayer” by Evagrius of Pontus (or Nilus of Ancyra) with Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan

Sargis Shnorhali’s Exegesis of 1 Peter 3:15 with Ani Shahinian

Canon of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross with Dn. Ezras Tellalian

Classical Armenian with Fr. Ghevond Ajamian

The previous two sessions of the Vemkar/Zohrab Classical Armenian Series “Christ as Hope” are available to stream on YouTube. They were both led by Fr. Ghevond Ajamian of St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Dallas, TX.

The July 21st session featured Gregory of Tatev’s “Sermon on Hope (Գրիգոր Տաթեւացւոյ քարոզ վասն յուսոյ).

The July 28th session looked at funeral prayers from the Book of Rituals (Մաշտոց / Ծիսարան), comparing those said for an adult with those said for a child.

The next session, on August 4th, will be led by Fr. Nigoghos Aznavourian and will focus on a sharakan (hymn) for the Feast of the Assumption.

To register for it on Zoom, and for all future sessions in the series, please visit: https://vemkar.us/modules/christ-as-hope/live-sessions/#classical-armenian

YouTube Recording of the First Session from the Vemkar/Zohrab Classical Armenian Series “Christ as Hope”

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.

Zohrab/Vemkar “Christ as Hope” Classical Armenian Series

Join the Zohrab Center and Vemkar‘s Classical Armenian Series on the theme “Christ as Hope,” where you’ll have the opportunity to read texts in Classical Armenian (Գրաբար), the liturgical language of the Armenian Church, guided by clergy, scholars, and advanced students of the language!

Through the guidance of a teacher, attendees will be introduced to a diversity of texts related to the theme of “Christ as Hope” from the Armenian Christian tradition, meditating on this theme while gaining exposure to Classical Armenian and the vast library of literary treasures written in this form of the language from the fifth to nineteenth centuries. 

The eight sessions will convene on Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm ET, from July 14 – Sept 1. Register for the Zoom sessions in advance. Come to one or all!

DateTime (EDT)TitleSpeakerZoom Link
Wednesday, July 147:00 PMSession 1Jesse ArlenREGISTER
Wednesday, July 217:00 PMSession 2Fr. Ghevond AjamianREGISTER
Wednesday, July 287:00 PMSession 3Fr. Ghevond AjamianREGISTER
Wednesday, August 47:00 PMSession 4Fr. Nigoghos AznavourianREGISTER
Wednesday, August 117:00 PMSession 5Julia HintlianREGISTER
Wednesday, August 187:00 PMSession 6Fr. Hovsep KarapetyanREGISTER
Wednesday, August 257:00 PMSession 7Ani ShahinianREGISTER
Wednesday, September 17:00 PMSession 8Dn. Ezras TellalianREGISTER

For more information, and to see a full schedule of the live sessions offered in conjunction with the lanuch of Vemkar’s new module, visit: https://vemkar.us/modules/christ-as-hope/live-sessions/

DIOCESE ANNOUNCES THE FIRST POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW & DIRECTOR OF THE ZOHRAB CENTER

The Eastern Diocese is pleased to announce that scholar Jesse Arlen has been named as the first “Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Armenian Christian Studies, and Director at the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center.”

Mr. Arlen was selected for the fellowship by a committee representing the Diocese and Fordham University, following a public call for applications. Earlier this year, the Eastern Diocese, under the auspices of Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel, entered into an agreement with Fordham University, which reconfigured the director’s position of the Diocese’s Zohrab Information Center.

Under this arrangement, the Zohrab Center directorship is now a rotating position of two to three years’ duration, where each successive director will simultaneously hold a post-doctoral research fellowship at Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center. (Click here to learn more.)

“I am honored to have been selected as the first recipient of the newly formulated postdoctoral position of Zohrab Center director and Fordham University research fellow,” said Mr. Arlen. “I am grateful for those who gave me this opportunity, which will allow me to engage in research, teaching, and programming around the areas I have pursued in my graduate studies: Armenian Christian culture, theology, and history as well as language and literature.”

He added: “I look forward to continuing to deepen connections and work collaboratively with colleagues at the Diocese and for future opportunities at Fordham and St. Nersess.”

Since February, Mr. Arlen has been serving as the Zohrab Center’s interim director, while he completes his Ph.D. at UCLA in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures with a focus in Armenian studies. He is the author of numerous publications and papers, and has been a speaker at many academic workshops, panel discussions, and interviews.

“Jesse is a very promising scholar in the field of Armenian theology and early Christian studies,” said Bishop Daniel. “He brings to the Zohrab Center not only strong scholarly and teaching credentials, but also sincere dedication to the Armenian Church and its vital Christian witness and ministry.”

A NEW ERA FOR THE DIOCESE’S ZOHRAB CENTER BEGINS UNDER A NEW COLLABORATION WITH FORDHAM UNIVERSITY

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.

Click here for an official job description and submission details.

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.

Click the link to find a job description for the Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Director position.

Bedros Keljik’s Armenian-American Sketches: An Evening with the Contributors

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.

The book may be purchased online from Abril Bookstore (Glendale, CA), NAASR Bookstore (Belmont, MA), or the Eastern Prelacy Bookstore (NY). Support your local Armenian bookseller!

Register in advance for this Zoom meeting: https://bit.ly/3fwjudQ

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Literary Responses to the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict with Arakel Minassian, Monday, March 22, 7:00pm

On Monday, March 22, at 7:00pm (ET), Arakel Minassian, M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Michigan, will present two contemporary literary responses to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Register for this Zohrab Information Center event here:

The escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict this past year into full-fledged war resulted in devastating losses for the Armenians – the loss of land, civilian life and infrastructure, and thousands of soldiers, many as young as 18. The current peace agreement is at best a stopgap measure, and the political turmoil in Armenia continues to this day. This latest fighting was the culmination of over twenty years of prolonged stalemate that saw the solidification of divergent and mutually exclusive Armenian and Azerbaijani national narratives. Dialogue in such times proved extremely difficult, as it is now.

This talk will examine two pieces of contemporary Armenian literature dealing with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – Hambardzum Hambardzumyan’s 2010 short story “Erku zham” [“Two Hours”] and Karen Gharslyan’s 2016 experimental piece Aterazma: Tpagrayin film [Aterazma (It’s-hate-war): Typographic Film]. These two texts, composed by writers born shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union who came to adulthood in the context of this prolonged stalemate, invite readers to find alternate forms of engagement with both the conflict and the Azerbaijani counterpart. They ask readers to see Armenians and Azerbaijanis not as eternal enemies, but as two peoples with shared histories in the region, both in the Soviet period and before. They further ask readers to see the young men manning the trenches on both sides of the line of contact as human beings sharing in terrible and prolonged suffering. By finding these common threads between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, these authors offer an alternate narrative to that of perpetual enmity.

Arakel Minassian is a graduate of the M.A. program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Michigan, where he wrote his thesis on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in contemporary Eastern Armenian literature. His research focus has been on contemporary Armenian literature generally, and his article on a 2015 personal essay by Anna Davtyan is forthcoming in the scholarly journal Études Arméniennes Contemporaines. Arakel is also a translator of both Western and Eastern Armenian.   

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEvc-uupz8oEtIzicZMycrdbODCOjUsqxIR

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.