Learn Classical Armenian (Krapar, the Language of the Armenian Church) in the New Year!

Let your 2024 New’s Year resolution be to learn classical Armenian (Krapar)!

Zohrab Center director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen is offering a 12-week course (Jan. 8 – Mar 29) that will introduce participants to ancient or “classical” Armenian, the literary form of the language from the fifth to the nineteenth century and the liturgical language of the Armenian Orthodox Church today. An Indo-European language, Armenian is distantly related to Greek, Latin, English, and other western languages. It has a vast library of literature comprised of original compositions by literary and theological masters such as St. Gregory of Narek and St. Nersess Shnorhali, as well as important translations from Greek, Syriac, Latin, and Arabic, among other languages, some of which survive only in Armenian translation.

All sessions will take place by Zoom and no prior experience or knowledge is required. Students will learn the Armenian alphabet, basic grammar, and vocabulary, and will read simple prose narratives, while also gaining an appreciation for the culture and tradition of one of the ancient Christian peoples of the East. The course will be of interest to the faithful of the Armenian Church, as well as anyone with an interest in classics, medieval/byzantine/near eastern studies, biblical studies, theology, and liturgy, and will cover the equivalent of a one-semester university class for only $500. Minimum of 5 students required in order to run the course. A continuation class will be offered based on student demand. Email jarlen@fordham.edu to express interest and for scheduling.

Watch the Recording of the St. Nersess Shnorhali Conference in Rome on YouTube Now

The international conference “Plenitude of Grace, Plenitude of Humanity: St Nerses Shnorhali at the Juncture of Millennia” took place Thursday and Friday (Nov 30–Dec 1) at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. The recordings of all sessions from both days are available to view online through the YouTube Channel of the Pontifical Oriental Institute or below.A conference flyer and schedule are also available to view below.

Conference on St. Nersess Shnorhali in Rome Available to Stream on YouTube

The international conference “Plenitude of Grace, Plenitude of Humanity: St Nerses Shnorhali at the Juncture of Millennia” is taking place this Thursday and Friday (Nov 30–Dec 1) at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. Among the invited speakers are Zohrab Center director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen, former Diocesan primate Bp. Daniel Findikyan, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary Emeritus Professor Dr. Abraham Terian and current St. Nersess Seminary Professor Dr. Roberta R. Ervine, along with an impressive lineup of scholars and clergymen.

The sessions will be broadcast live (and available for later viewing) through the YouTube Channel of the Pontifical Oriental Institute (www.youtube.com/@Orientale).

The conference was organized in conjunction with a series of events that were to take place in Rome and the Vatican, including concerts and an ecumenical prayer service, to honor the 850th year since the death of St. Nerses Shnorhali. Unfortunately, all events apart from the conference have been indefinitely postponed.

A conference flyer and schedule are available to view below:

The Poetic World of St. Nersess Shnorhali by Dr. Jesse S. Arlen at the Catholic University of America

Last weekend, Zohrab Center director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen traveled to Washington, D.C., where he gave talks on St. Nersess Shnorhali at St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic University of America. His talk at St. Mary’s parish, at the invitation of Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan, entitled “The Life, Works, and Legacy of St. Nerses Shnorhali 850 Years Later,” considered the great achievements of the beloved catholicos and saint, especially his efforts to bring spiritual and religious truths in a format accessible to laymen and the general population through poetry, songs, and riddles.

His talk at the Catholic University of America, delivered to an audience of graduate students, seminarians, and faculty was entitled “The Poetic World of St. Nerses Shnorhali” and considered the voluminous poetic output of Shnorhali in light of the oral and written Armenian literary tradition of the time. It emphasized the innovation of St. Nerses’ poetic contribution in light of the literary, clerical tradition dominated by prose, as opposed to the largely oral, poetic tradition performed in the songs of the Gusans (Bards), still active in St. Nerses’ time. The talk chronicles the saint’s effort to render Scriptural, theological material in an accessible form that would be appealing to laymen, in a broader effort to replace their love of the ancient, epic, pagan, oral tradition with Christian poetry and songs based on the Scriptural tradition.

A recording of the talk at Catholic University of America may be viewed below.

6-part lecture series on St. Nersess Shnorhali available to view on YouTube

The Vemkar 6-part lecture series “Entering the World, Mind, and Soul of St. Nersess Shnorhali” is available to view on YouTube. Organized in commemoration of the 850th anniversary of the saint’s repose and in response to the pontifical encyclical of His Holiness Karekin II issued earlier this year (ARM ENG), the lecture series began on August 22nd and continued on consecutive Tuesday evenings through September 26th.

The six lectures may be viewed below or on the Vemkar YouTube channel.

Lecture One by Dr. Roberta R. Ervine — “Becoming Shnorhali: On the Context of Catholicos Nerses IV Klayets’i

Lecture Two by Dr. Jesse S. Arlen — “The Poetic World of St. Nersess Shnorhali”

Lecture Three by Matthew J. Sarkisian — “Odes of St. Nersess the Graceful”

Lecture Four by Dn. Hovannes Khosdeghian — “Today the Ineffable (Այսօր անճառ): A Reading of St. Nersess Shnorhali’s Good Friday Song”

Lecture Five by Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan – “St. Nersess Shnorhali and the Threefold Way of Theosis”

Lecture Six by Dn. Andrew Kayaian – “St. Nersess’ Ecumenical Relations with the Byzantines”

RESCHEDULED EVENT: Book Presentation by Christopher Atamian of translation of the novel Trashland by Denis Donikian

The Zohrab center invites you to a book presentation and reading from Christopher Atamian’s newly-released translation of the novel Trashland by Denis Donikian in Guild Hall at the Diocesan Center on Thursday, September 21st at 7:00pm. (This event is rescheduled from July).

Trashland starts off with its hero Gam—which in Armenian means both “I exist” and “or else”—a clever play on words, standing atop a hill as he relieves himself on the Armenian capital of Yerevan below. Once a muckraking journalist nicknamed “The Hedgehog,” Gam fled a life-shattering earthquake in his home city of Gyumri into a life of subsistence, living in a small hut near the garbage dump. Trashland offers an insider’s view of an often-insular society. As a diasporan Armenian, the author Denis Donikian writes from a privileged vantage point. Playing devil’s advocate, he has superseded the expectations assigned to diasporans as cash cows to be bilked for imaginary projects or retirees who come to spend their hard-earned money in their golden years. To cross this line, one must love one’s people and community. To lay bare its deepest wounds and expose its most deep-seated corruption—those are the signs of a true patriot and humanist. Few novels deliver quite such acerbic, and at times lively societal criticism. Trashland serves as a dirge to a country abandoned to its worst tendencies.

To read an article about the book, click here. To purchase a copy, click here.

Christopher Atamian is a writer, translator, filmmaker, curator, and critic who has written for leading publications, including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Brooklyn Rail, and Hyperallergic. He is the former Dance critic for The New York Press and Co-Editor and Publisher of KGB Magazine. He has curated both art and film, including 12 exhibitions for the non-profit Nor Alik, which he also founded. He co-created Atamian Hovsepian Curatorial Practice (AHCP) with a focus on experimental and conceptual art by underrepresented voices. He has published six books, and edited art catalogues and books. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Business School, he has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship at the ETH Zürich, a Bronfman Scholarship in Democratic Enterprise, two Tölölyan Literary Prizes and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He has been nominated for a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

Zoom Lecture Series on St. Nersess Shnorhali– Aug 22 to Sept 26

The Zohrab Information Center cordially invites you to attend the Vemkar Zoom lecture series, entitled “Entering the World, Mind, and Soul of St. Nersess Shnorhali.” Organized in commemoration of the 850th anniversary of the saint’s repose and in response to the pontifical encyclical of His Holiness Karekin II issued earlier this year (ARM ENG), the lecture series begins a week from today on Tuesday, August 22nd at 7:00pm ET and runs six consecutive Tuesday evenings through September 26th.

Please register in advance for the Zoom lecture series.

A flyer with the speaker and title info for each session is available below:

Lily E. Jelalian Summer Internship Program Concludes Successfully

(Left to Right) Aren Yegoryan, Armen Karakashian, Arthur Ipek, Dr. Jesse Arlen, Luiza Ghazaryan, Tessa Weber

The Zohrab Center’s 2023 Lily E. Jelalian summer internship program came to a successful conclusion on Thursday, July 27th. Two high school and two college interns assisted with coordinating donations to the library and processing and cataloging Armenian-related books and periodicals in Armenian, English, Turkish, Russian, Spanish, and Italian, as well as organizing the library’s space and its holdings to make it more functional. All together, over 500 new items were processed and added to the collection, where they are now searchable via the library’s online catalog.

Working under the guidance of director, Dr. Jesse S. Arlen, and special projects coordinator and cataloger, Arthur Ipek, each intern also had a special project they pursued, meant to give them an opportunity to foster and develop their own interests in Armenian culture, history, language, and literature.

Armen Karakashian, a Mathematics major at Rutgers University, where he is also taking classes in Western Armenian, translated the beginning of a novella by Matteos Mamurean and developed a prototype for an AI-based software to assist in the cataloging of books.

Luiza Ghazaryan, a Neuroscience major at NYU, who is also pursuing minors in Creative Writing and Chemistry, translated Eastern Armenian poetry and short stories to English. Three of her translations were published on the Armenian Poetry Project‘s website: My Serene Evenfall by Vahan Teryan; Vernal Equinox by Hovhannes Shiraz; You Are Everything by Hovhannes Shiraz.

Tessa Dadourian Weber, a high school student at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, learned the Armenian alphabet and researched the Kütahya/Jerusalem Ottoman Armenian ceramics and pottery tradition, which she plans to apply in her own ceramics practice.

Aren Yegoryan, a high school student at Saint Demetrios Prep in Queens, researched the history of modern Armenian photography.

Over the course of the internship program, the interns also visited and received private tours at the Atamian Hovsepian Art Gallery and Cultural Space and The Morgan Library and Museum, and also met by Zoom with Dean V. Shahinian, who generously funded the Lily E. Jelalian summer internship program in loving memory of his aunt.

Each of the interns had an opportunity to reflect on their own experience working at the Zohrab Center.

Armen Karakashian translating an Armenian novella

Armen Karakashian: “I am incredibly grateful for my internship at the Zohrab Center. The internship provided me with the opportunity to continue learning the Armenian language in new and challenging ways, such as interpreting Armenian texts for cataloguing purposes and being introduced to the Eastern Armenian dialect. In addition to cataloguing books, I also practiced translating chapters from the novella Ամիս մը Ծովուն Վրայ by Մատթէոս Մամուրեան (A Month on the Sea by Matteos Mamurean) and programmed a prototype AI-based software to assist in the cataloguing of books. I was also exposed to many Armenians throughout the cathedral and the center who speak the language fluently, which greatly assisted in my own learning of the language.”

Luiza Ghazaryan cataloging books

Luiza Ghazaryan: “Interning at the Zohrab Information Center gave me the opportunity to be closer to the treasures of Armenian literature, history, and art. During my time as an intern, my mentors and peers inspired me to explore the beauty of my roots, strengthen my skills in Creative Writing, and publish translations of Armenian poems in The Armenian Poetry Project. I spent most of my time cataloging the donated books and in this very captivating process, I encountered new writing styles and forms of art, and learned more about talented Armenians.”

Tessa Weber cataloging the AGBU periodical “Hoosharar”

Tessa Dadourian Weber: “During my time spent at the Zohrab Center this summer, I completed various projects and tasks. One reason I became interested in working and researching at the center was to expand my knowledge on Armenian pottery. Next year I plan to engage in an independent study at my school on Armenian pottery. Having the opportunity and access to the Zohrab Center has allowed me to gain a basis of understanding on how these vessels were created and the history behind them. I plan to take what I have learned to my study where I aim to use the same techniques as used in the Ottoman Armenian tradition from Kütahya and Jerusalem. In addition to my research, I spent time at the center helping organize the periodicals, some dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. Sorting through different series of periodicals, for example Hoosharar, broadened my prior knowledge on different subjects, for instance the history of AGBU. Lastly, I spent time studying the Armenian alphabet so I would have the ability to read titles of books and periodicals located in the center.”

Aren Yegoryan shelving books

Aren Yegoryan: “During my time at the Zohrab Center, I assisted in processing, cataloging, and organizing Armenian books. It was a pleasant experience to participate in as a summer job. It provided a sense of responsibility and gave me my first work experience, which I’m sure will help me with my future endeavors. Being exposed to many different books, people, and information, the environment was great to work in, and I’d certainly do it again.”

The Zohrab Center’s 2023 Lily E. Jelalian summer internship program lasted for six weeks, from June 19th to July 27th, with the interns coming to work in person at the Center three days per week.

(Left to Right) Armen Karakashian, Aren Yegoryan, Arthur Ipek, Dr. Jesse Arlen, Luiza Ghazaryan, Tessa Weber

Tenny Arlen — To Say with Passion: Why Am I Here? – June 27, 6:30pm

Atamian Hovsepian Curatorial Practice is pleased to present a bilingual reading of Tenny Arlen’s important book of Armenian verse entitled Կիրքով ըսելու՝ ինչո՞ւ հոս եմ (To Say with Passion: Why Am I Here?) (Yerevan: ARI Literature Foundation, 2021). As one of the first full-length volumes of creative literature composed in Armenian by a US-born author after over a century of Armenian-American community development—this is a landmark achievement. Christopher Atamian, Dr. Jesse S. Arlen, and Arthur Ipek will read and discuss selections from Tenny Arlen’s book of verse.

The event will take place at the new gallery of Atamian Hovsepian Curatorial Practice located at 227 E 24th Street New York, NY, 10010 on Tuesday, June 27th at 6:30pm. Note, the gallery is closed on Tuesdays and will open at 5:30 for this special event.

Please RSVP to info@atamianhovsepian.art