Jennifer Manoukian will present a lecture entitled Zareh Vorpouni and the Metamorphosis of Western Armenian Literature at the Zohrab Center on Tuesday, June 13 at 7PM. The presentation comes on the heels of Manoukian’s new English translation of the French-Armenian author’s 1967 novel, The Candidate.
Zareh Vorpouni was the least known, but the most prolific in a coterie of young writers who turned Paris of the 1920’s and 1930’s into the epicenter of Western Armenian literature. These writers deliberately broke with their Ottoman Armenian predecessors in theme and form, staging an outright rebellion against them. Their invention of new literary standards and their impulse to represent the new realities of the diaspora challenged the conservatism of the Armenian community and created a fleeting period in which interrogations of nationalism, clericalism and sexuality became the norm in literature.
Vorpouni spent the second half of the twentieth century at the height of his creativity. “He embodies the new, the experimental, and the transgressive in Western Armenian fiction,” writes Manoukian.
Vorpouni’s novel, The Candidate, follows the trials and travails of two Armenian refugees in 1920s Paris. At its core, Manoukian reveals “a commentary on the (im)possibility of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, the toll of sacrifice and the tremors of trauma and love, which mirror the wandering, introspective and hybridized life of its author,” she writes.
Manoukian will speak about The Candidate, which she co-translated with Ishkhan Jinbashian. CLICK HERE to download a flyer.
Manoukian’s presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York on Tuesday, June 13 at 7PM. The event is free and open to the public. Copies of The Candidate will be available for sale. A reception and conversation will follow.
For further information contact the Zohrab Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710.
A critically-acclaimed survey of Armenian literature in twentieth-century France will be presented at the Zohrab Center on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 7PM by Christopher Atamian, translator of the newly-published English edition.
Fifty Year of Armenian Literature in France, by Krikor Beledian, examines Armenian literature as it emerged in France between 1922 and the beginning of the 1970’s. Its goals are several; first of all, to retrace the literary history of the period starting with Armenian immigration until the passing away of the movement’s main representatives. Then by examining the most significant works, to study the issues raised by a literature of exile, one born after an event that was experienced and interpreted as a “national catastrophe”: the identity crisis (the Same), brought about by a violent confrontation with a new environment (the Other), the emergence of a new identity and the long process to integrate exile and the foreign space.
French-Armenian writer and critic Krikor Beledian was born in Beirut, Lebanon where he attended the renowned Armenian “Jemaran” Preparatory School before moving to Paris in 1967. He holds PhDs in Philosophy and in Comparative Literature from the University of Paris V.
Entitled Cinquante ans de littérature arménienne en France: Du même à l’autre in its original French edition, the work was published in Paris in 2001 and met with wide critical acclaim.
Christopher Atamian is a frequent visitor to the Zohrab Center, where he has spoken many times, most recently as coordinator of the popular ZIC Film Series. A native New Yorker, Atamian is an internationally known writer, translator, journalist, critic and filmmaker. He writes for publications such as the New York Times Book Review, The Huffington Post, The Beirut Daily Star, the New Criterion, Dance Magazine and is the former dance critic for The New York Press. He produced the OBIE Award-winning play Trouble in Paradise and was included in the 2009 Venice Biennale for his video Sarafian’s Desire. He has translated five books and written one novel and is currently at work on several book projects, one translation, a book of Bedros Keljik stories as editor, and a second novel, as well as producing and directing television, film and theater and his first anthology of poetry, which follows on his being included in An Anthology of Armenian Poets. Atamian is the recipient of numerous grants, awards and fellowships including the Tololyan Literary Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship, a John Harvard Fellowship, the Bronfman Fellowship in Democratic Enterprise at Columbia University, Gulbenkian and AGBU grants, an AFFMA film making grant, and a 2015 Ellis Island Award. His lectures at the Zohrab Information Center on film are part of his work, “Deconstructing Ararat,” a volume on Armenian Cinema which is forthcoming. He is fluent in ten languages and is an alumnus of Harvard University, Columbia Business School and USC Film School.
The book presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York at 7PM. Books will be available for sale. All are welcome and a reception will follow.
For further information contact the Zohrab Center at email@example.com or (212) 686-0710.
Rustling through the countless tattered books that await identification and cataloging in the Zohrab Center’s library, I recently came across an old journal entitled Եկեղեցի Հայաստանեայց. Ամսաթերթ Կրօնական եւ Աստուածաբանական / Yegeghetsee Hayasdanyayts: Amsatert Gronagan yev Asdvadzapanagan [The Church of the Armenians: A Religious and Theological Journal].
The journal was published in Manchester, England by Toros Der Isahagian, a married priest whose byname Jughayetsi marks him as a native of New Julfa, the Armenian quarter of Isfahan in northwestern Iran, an important Armenian commercial and religious center.
The inaugural volume, designated Number 1 April 1900, opens with a congratulatory letter from His Holiness the Catholicos Mgrdich, better known as Khrimian Hayrig. That and subsequent issues contain short essays on the history and doctrines of the Armenian Church, including short articles on saints, holy days, sacraments and other church services, as well as meaty and well-written sermons and commentaries on Bible passages.
The final issue for the year 1900 contains one of the most remarkable writings I have encountered by an Armenian clergyman in modern times. Spanning 34 single-spaced pages, it carries the title: Pastoral Letter to the True Children of the Apostolic Church of the Armenians who are under the Care of this Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Manchester [Թուղթ Հովուական առ հարազատ որդիս Հայաստանեայց Առաքելական Եկեղեցւոյ որք ընդ հովանեաւ Ս. Հոգի (sic) Եկեղեցւոյս հայոց ի Մանչեսթր].
This extraordinary letter is actually a book-length cross between a genuine Armenian Church catechesis, and a call to spiritual arms for diasporan Armenian Christians in England at the turn of the 20th century. With refreshing originality, Fr. Der Isahagian takes up fundamental components of the Armenian Church’s history, theology, and liturgy and applies this age-old Christian tradition to pressing, practical issues facing the people under his care. Here is an Armenian pastor who is fully rooted in the apostolic, Orthodox eastern tradition of his church, while fully aware of the very modern, very western concerns of his flock.
Not surprisingly for those who know anything about the Armenian Church’s theology, the priest from New Julfa’s exposition is thoroughly and unreservedly Biblical, amounting to a marvelous celebration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, told from the faith experience of the Armenian people. This is a treatise that deserves to be translated into English and other western languages and distributed widely.
The very next day, quite by chance, I discovered another bound collection of journals with the same name, but published in 1888 in Constantinople. I only had to leaf through a few pages to discover the very same editor at work, in this instance, publishing a more concise, weekly paper with content similar to what he would later create in Manchester. The weekly version provided detailed commentaries on the Bible readings appointed in the Armenian Lectionary for each Sunday, along with essays on saints and feast days falling during that week along with thoughtful sermons on the most practical aspects of Christian life.
It turns out that Toros Der Isahagian was a well-known scholar and theologian long before he was ordained a priest in Holy Etchmiadzin around 1896, when he was called to serve the Armenian community in Manchester as their priest. His tenure there was rocky. As the oldest and most affluent Armenian Church community in Europe at the time, Manchester became a magnet for countless Armenian refugees fleeing the growing persecutions in eastern Turkey. At the same time, the Armenian merchants of Manchester, most of them involved in the cotton industry, were constantly called upon to provide financial assistance to the hordes of widows and orphans finding their way to Constantinople on the eve of the Genocide. Fr. Der Isahagian seems to have been the victim of political in-fighting within the community, whose flames were fanned by darkening clouds in the homeland. He resigned his pastorate in 1902.
The few histories of the Armenian community in Manchester that have been published have little more to say about the prolific Der Hayr from New Julfa.
Deacon Allan Jendian of Fresno, California has provided additional information about our prolific priest, culling references from a variety of commemorative booklets and other materials. After his departure from Manchester, Der Toros spent several decades in the United States. After a brief stint as Pastor of the Armenians in Boston, he went to California, where he served as Pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Fresno (1907), and the first priest of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church of Fowler (1910-1912, 1916-1917). He subsequently served for shorter periods in Los Angeles (1913-1915), San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento. He returned to Isfahan in the 1930’s and died there in 1938. He is buried in the All-Savior’s Armenian Monastery there.
Der Toros is referred to in some publications as Der Teodoros. As editor of the first English translation of the Armenian Badarak (Fresno, 1931) his name appears as Theodoros Isaac.
Der Isahagian was born in Nor Jugha in 1861. He was ordained in October 1895 in Holy Etchmiadzin. He earned his Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Bonn, Germany.
Apart from these scattered references, the literary work he has left behind suggests that he was a true intellectual, a devout servant of God, and a dedicated pastor of the Armenian Church. Several essays and sermons of his are published in the 1896 issues of Ararat, the forerunner of Etchmiadzin, the official organ of the Holy See. He is also the author of a commentary on the Soorp Badarak, the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, which was published in Jerusalem in 1891 with a second edition in 1959.
Here is an excerpt from Der Isahagian’s Foreword to his Armenian Church Journal published in Constantinople:
If, while cultivating our secular mind, we ignore our spiritual development, gradually the spirit will become numb eventually to become completely desensitized and die. Such a person then becomes becomes incapable of grasping spiritual truths because there is no longer any balance between the mind and the spirit.
[YegeghetseeHayasdanyayts , March 6, 1888, No. 1, page 2. Translated by Fr. Daniel Findikyan]
Judging by the extent and superior quality of his writings, much of this priest’s time and energy must have been devoted to writing. One can only admire the tenacity and fervor of Der Toros, who was able to produce all he did while raising a family and caring for a large, diasporan church community at the turn of a troubled century for the Armenian people. When we consider the financial resources required to print and distribute periodical journals, especially at a time when the Armenian community of Manchester, England had other pressing obligations to desperate refugees and victims of violence in the homeland. Fr. Der Isahagian’s literary output and spiritual/educational contribution to the Armenian Church becomes even more exceptional.
The Zohrab Center presents a rich and varied program of lectures, book presentations, and other stimulating opportunities for enrichment and edification this Winter and Spring. Armenians and anyone interested in Armenian civilization, arts, letters, and faith will find many options to learn, to grow and to inspire others.
A new study on Armenian music, a guide to the Armenian Church’s Holy Week ceremonies, a photographic album of the old Armenian community of Bourj-Hammoud, a Genocide-era novel, and a new travelogue of historic western Armenia will all be showcased by their authors. In addition, noted scholars will hold forth on various facets of Armenian Studies, including Vartan Matossian, Helen Evans and Roberta Ervine. A movie night and other events are also planned.
The Zohrab Center is collaborating with several sister organizations and parishes to co-sponsor some events.
All events are open to the public and most are free of charge. Unless otherwise noted, all presentations take place at the Zohrab Center (Armenian Diocese, New York). Check back frequently for updates and additions. For further information contact ZIC at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710.
ZIC Schedule of Events Spring 2015
Thursday, February 5 (7PM) “Code Name Haiko: Discovering the Last Unknown Participant in Talaat Pasha’s Liquidation” Dr. Vartan Matiossian, Armenian National Education Committee
Thursday, February 12 Commemoration of St. Vartan and His Companions. Divine Liturgy and Dinner followed by Lecture. Co-sponsored with St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral “An Anthropologist Considers St. Vartan: Faith, Nation and Memory” Lecture by Christopher Sheklian, University of Chicago
Thursday, February 19 (7PM) St. Leon Armenian Church, Fair Lawn, NJ The Life and Work of 19th-Century Armenian Composer Kristapor Gara-Murza. Book Presentation by Krikor Pidejian with Şahan Arzruni.
Thursday, March 5(7PM) Co-sponsored with Eastern Diocese Department of Armenian Studies Portraits of Survival: The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud. Book Presentation by Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne.
Thursday, March 12 (7PM) A.G.B.U. Center, New York Historic Armenia after 100 Years. Book Presentation by Matthew Karamian
Thursday, March 19 (7PM) “A Guided Tour of Holy Week in the Armenian Church” Lecture and Book Presentation by Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Zohrab Information Center/St. Nersess Armenian Seminary
Wednesday, April 8 (7PM)
“Picking Up the Pieces: Three Bishops and Their Vision for the Armenian Church circa 1920” Lecture by Dr. Roberta Ervine, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary
Thursday, April 16 (7PM) Co-sponsored with the Eastern Diocese Department of Armenian Studies The Martyred Armenian Writers 1915-1922. Book presentation by Herand Markarian
Thursday, April 30 (7PM)
“Armenian Art: Voice of a People” Dr. Helen Evans, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Tuesday, June 2 (7PM) The Survivor. Book Presentation: Rosemary Hartounian Cohen.
Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte lost her childhood to the ethnic cleansing in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1988.
Her life was swept away at the tender age of 10 when Muslim Azeris drove the Armenian community out of the country using terror and violence. Fleeing to Armenia, which was still reeling from the earthquake of 1988, she found herself an outsider; a nationless girl surviving in an unheated basement and facing discrimination again, this time by her own people.
Nowhere: A Story of Exile is a riveting story of organized terror, refugee life, and the desperate search for one’s home told through the diary entries of a young girl. Anna gives voice to a horrific tragedy little reported in the West, to the Armenian community of Azerbaijan and to the child victims of ethnic cleansing everywhere.
Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte will speak of her experiences at the Zohrab Information Center on Thursday, November 13 at 7:00PM. Her presentation will be held in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York. It is being co-sponsored by the Zohrab Center and the Armenian Network of America Greater NY Chapter.
Ms. Astvatsaturian Turcotte came to the United States as an Armenian refugee in 1992 and became a US citizen in 1997. She holds a law degree and was one of the first Americans to clerk for the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands after observing its creation at the United Nations. Anna is currently living in the United States and working in the financial industry. She is married and has two children.
“Anna’s diary, written from the wide-eyed perspective of an 11-year old girl, is nevertheless remarkably incisive and haunting in its portrayal of the cruelties inflicted on the Armenian people of Baku,” said V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Center. He added, “Anna is the Armenian Anne Frank of our times.”
The book presentation is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.
The Zohrab Center will host a book presentation by Jennifer Manoukian, whose new, English translation of the autobiography of Zabel Yessayan entitled, The Gardens of Silihdar, has just been published. The event is being co-sponsored by the Armenian Network of America Greater New York Region.
The presentation will take place on Tuesday, May 6 at 2014 at 7PM at the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York.
Author, educator and social activist Zabel Yessayan (1878-1943) is today recognized as one of the greatest writers in Western Armenian literature. Her poignant 1935 autobiography displays the fierce determination of an Ottoman era Armenian intellectual who refused to accept the restrictions placed on women in Ottoman Turkey, and affords a vivid account of Armenian community life in Constantinople at the end of the nineteenth century.
At her Zohrab presentation Manoukian will present The Gardens of Silihdar, and introduce the life and work of Zabel Yessayan, a bold, one-of-a-kind figure in Western Armenian literature. The presentation is free and open to the public. A wine and cheese reception will follow, during which attendees may purchase the book.