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 email@example.com to express interest and for scheduling.
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.
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.
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.
Each of the interns had an opportunity to reflect on their own experience working at the Zohrab Center.
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: “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 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: “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.
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.
On April 27th, the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America hosted the book release of Zarmine Boghosian’s From Azaz to America (Yerevan: “VMV-PRINT”, 2021). To read about the program, click here. For photos, click here.
The over four-hundred page book gathers into one place the educator-principal-author’s articles, essays, memoirs, recollections, and poetry written from the 1960s until recent years.
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.
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.
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!
This Friday, May 16, Dr. Arda Jebejian will present a lecture at St. Leon Armenian Church, Fair Lawn, New Jersey entitled Challenges and Opportunities to Maintaining an Endangered Language.
A socio-linguist, Dr. Jebejian will explore the experience of other endangered languages and explain why languages die, what is lost and what we can do to avoid extinction. Unlike the physical destruction and other aspects of the genocidal process, the death of Western Armenian is neither inevitable nor irreversible. Simple, practical steps by parents and communities can be taken to maintain Western Armenian and pass it on to subsequent generations.
The lecture is being co-sponsored by St. Leon Armenian Church, the Armenian Studies Department of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) and the Zohrab Information Center.
Dr. Jebejian is a lecturer at the University of Nicosia. She holds a Doctor of Applied Linguistics from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom. She has authored twenty-two books including four text books for English language instruction with supplemental materials.
The presentation will take place on Friday, May 16 at 7:45PM at the Grace & Charles Pinajian Youth Center of St. Leon Armenian Church, 12-61 Saddle River Road, Fair Lawn, New Jersey. The lecture will be presented in English, and is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.
For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710.