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July 2015 | Orhans Inheritance, by Talar Chahinian (134 KB)
I must admit, picking up a book with a narrative already too familiar is a tall order. The task is made even more difficult when the narrative is one that speaks to my ethnic and communal sense of belonging. The room for disappointment is wide since so much is at stake. This hesitation, informed by simultaneous feelings of possessiveness and intrigue, often frames my approach to memoirs and novels about the Armenian genocide, an event that marks my familial history of becoming. It was in this resistant vein that I picked up Aline Ohanesian’s debut novel, “Orhan’s Inheritance” (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2015).
May 2013 | Repositioning Diaspora and the Role of Its Intellectual, by Talar Chahinian (88 KB)
Over the last few decades, the term “diaspora” has rapidly spread and expanded to take on multiple meanings both inside and outside of academic disciplines. So much so, that this proliferation of meaning, configured as the dispersion of the term in a semantic and conceptual space, has been referred to as “‘diaspora’ diaspora.” ... As the term “diaspora” moves toward encompassing multidirectional states of being (figurative diasporas, internal diasporas, post-nationalist diasporas), the Armenian diaspora, often cited alongside Jewish and Greek diasporas as being closest to the term’s classical definition, has undergone radical shifts of its own.
Jun 2012 | Preserving Armenian History and Culture: Moving into the Digital Age, Tamar Boyadjian (602 KB)
As someone who attended Armenian private school, I consider the preservation of Armenian culture an extremely important matter. Preserving Armenian culture, or hayabahbanum, was a constant topic of conversation throughout my primary education – among friends, in class, and in public lectures; it was keenly emphasized for us as children and ingrained in our education. ... But as we move deeper into the digital age, the question of preserving Armenian history and culture necessarily takes on an added meaning. The internet, for one, has dramatically improved and accelerated our access to all kinds of information.
May 2012 | Confronting the Limits of Culture and Identity in Grenier’s The Concession Stand, by Talar Chahinian (157 KB)
In her 2011 publication, The Concession Stand: Exaptation at the Margins, Arpine Konyalian Grenier sets out to puncture rigid formulations of identity that would classify her as an Armenian-American poet. As an Armenian born in Lebanon and living and producing in the United States, Grenier seeks to dismantle reductive formulations of hyphenated identity.
Feb 2012 | Spotlighting the Exclusions of Cultural Memory: Eulmessekian and Grenier, by Talar Chahinian (83 KB)
Artistic collaboration is a productive site where perspectives can meet and reshape each other, generating new imaginings for the artists involved. A film and poetry event sponsored by the Glendale Public Library and Abril bookstore on November 13, 2011 did just that, offering far more than a mere exchange between the featured artists, filmmaker Hrayr Anmahouni Eulmessekian and poet Arpine Konyalian Grenier.
Nov 2011 | Voghb yev Garod, Lament and Longing: Lory Bedikian’s The Book of Lamenting , Tamar Boyadjian (112 KB)
As I think about this closing line of Lory Bedikian’s poem, “The Book of Lamenting,” –bearing the same title as her first book of poems, winner of the 2010 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and due to be released on October 30, 2011 by Anhinga Press – I think about the many ways in which her collection of poetry is a voghb, or lament for life, family, and country.
Jul 2011 | Why Teach Our Kids Armenian? by Myrna Douzjian (90 KB)
As a proud graduate of Alex Pilibos, I often like to reflect on the fruits that local Armenian schools have borne over the last forty years. There’s no shortage of teachers, administrators, artists, musicians, writers, editors, journalists, filmmakers, political activists, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, mathematicians, architects, business owners and professionals. Some have even made big names for themselves. Yet there remains a gaping hole in the demographics of the citizens that our schools have produced.
May 2011 | Toward an Expanded Notion of the Witness: The Promise of Armenian Oral History Collections, Talar Chahinian (91 KB)
This spring marks the end of renowned historian Richard Hovannisian’s time at UCLA, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1962 and the first holder of the Armenian Education Foundation (AEF) Chair in Modern Armenian History since 1987. Those who are familiar with Hovannisian’s prolific record as a writer, editor, lecturer, organizer, and professor, might endow the news of his retirement with a hint of euphemism. But although the announcement of his retirement is recognized as marking a transition in rather than putting an end to his scholarly contribution, it nevertheless solicits a retrospective glance at the legacy Hovannisian leaves behind.
Mar 2011 | The Future of the Past: Toward the Preservation of Armenian Manuscripts, Tamar Boyadjian (149 KB)
On January 19, 2011, the University of California, Los Angeles hosted a lecture by UC Davis Art History Professor Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh, entitled “Heritage in Conflict: The Modern Life of a Medieval Manuscript.” Watenpaugh’s lecture focused on the conflict surrounding the seven detached leaves of Canon Tables belonging to the Zeyt‘un Gospels, which recently resurfaced after their mysterious disappearance half a century ago.
Aug 2010 | West. Armenian in Peril: UNESCO’s Recognition & the Question of Contemp. Lit. in the Exilic Lang., Talar Chahinian (122 KB)
In February of this year, Western Armenian joined UNESCO’s online Atlas of World Languages in Danger , earning the “definitely” status within the list’s degrees of endangerment. Out of the five-tier spectrum that ranges from “vulnerable” to “extinct,” “definitely endangered” refers to a language that children no longer learn as their mother tongue at home.
Apr 2010 | The Task of the Translator: Armenian Golgotha and the Conspiracy of History, by Hovig Tchalian (131 KB)
A film about the Armenian Genocide, Ravished Armenia, was recently screened in Pasadena‟s Armenian Center. The film, directed by Eric Nazarian, is thought to be the first about the Genocide made in the United States. The film is in part a retelling of the Genocide memoir of Aurora Mardiganian, published soon after she came to the United States in 1918. Interestingly, the film is also a partial reconstruction of the book‟s original film version, made in 1919 and now lost.
Mar 2010 | Disregarding the Diaspora’s Cultural Production? by Myrna Douzjian (111 KB)
In 2008, the Republic of Armenia announced the establishment of the Diaspora Ministry. Since then, this newly established governmental department has been implementing its primary mission, furthering the development of economic, social, and cultural ties between Armenia and the diaspora.
Nov 2009 | Perennially Transnational: Armenian Literature after the Genocide, by Myrna Douzjian (24 KB)
As a graduate student in Comparative Literature, I recently had the opportunity to present a talk entitled “Post-Genocide Armenian Literature of the Homeland and Diaspora” to students in an Armenian Studies undergraduate seminar at USC. I was initially confounded by the notion of having to unify a vast period of literary production in two complex and fluid locales – the homeland and the Diaspora.
Aug 2009 | Myth and Memoir in Black Dog of Fate, by Hovig Tchalian (60 KB)
The winter of 2009 saw the publication of the 10th anniversary edition of Peter Balakian’s award-winning 1997 Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir (Basic Books, NY: 2009). The book bears, on its cover, the additional subtitle, An American Son Uncovers His Armenian Past. The description aptly encompasses not only this volume but Balakian’s broader stance vis-à-vis his Armenian identity – he has consistently cast himself as the outsider looking in or, perhaps more accurately, inward.
Feb 2009 | Of Pedagogy and Cultural Production: Armenian Language Instruction in the Diaspora, by Talar Chahinian (26 KB)
Every fall, the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools organizes a professional development day for teachers working in California’s private Armenian schools, whether they be affiliated with the Prelacy or not. This year, I had the opportunity to participate in this one-day seminar by leading one of the workshops designed to address questions of methodology and curriculum for the schools’ Armenian language and literature departments.
Jul 2008 | A Shared History of 1915: Fethiye Çetin’s My Grandmother and the Turkish Memoir Trend, by Talar Chahinian (123 KB)
Over the last decade, there has been an increased interest in the unraveling stories of an older generation of women with hidden Armenian identities living in Turkey. This interest has been augmented by the growing trend of memoirs, which recount the stories of these women framed within the autobiographical narrative of the grandchild.
Apr 2008 | Genocide and the Historical Imagination, by Hovig Tchalian (601 KB)
It is difficult in the month of April to escape the temptation, the seeming inevitability, of writing on a topic dealing with the Genocide. The necessity of that exercise in this “cruelest month” perhaps renders the famous opening lines of T. S. Eliot’s epic poem, The Wasteland, now become cliché, nonetheless an apt epigraph to this article.
Sep 2007 | Viken Berberian's Das Kapital: A Post-Script, by Hovig Tchalian (45 KB)
This article about Viken Berberian’s second and well-publicized novel, Das Kapital: A Novel of Love + Money Markets (Simon and Schuster, 2007) is a post-script in two related ways: it appears just after a flurry of articles about the novel, both in Armenian and international periodicals; and it is about a novel that is itself a post-modern homage to Karl Marx’s monumental work of the same name.
Nov 2006 | The Authentic in Fiction: Aris Janigian's Bloodvine, by Hovig Tchalian (66 KB)
After several articles on topical subjects, I would like to discuss a novel published before the advent of Critics’ Forum – Aris Janigian’s Bloodvine (Heyday, 2003; Great Valley Books, 2005; all page references are to the later edition).
Aug 2006 | An African Journal: The Translated Stories of Raymond Boghos Kupelian, by Hovig Tchalian (35 KB)
The recently published collection of stories by Raymond Boghos Kupelian, African Symphony (AuthorHouse, 2006), marks a return of sorts, for both the author and his readers.
May 2006 | An Archive in a Footnote: The Legacy Project, by Hovig Tchalian (21 KB)
Now that the tumult of events surrounding Genocide commemoration has subsided, it is worth taking pause and considering the aftermath. The inevitable moment after (especially once the celebrations of May 28th are also past) brings up the difficult but enduring question–“What now?” or, more skeptically, “Is this all there is?”
Jan 2006 | The Presence of the Past in the Poetry of Peter Balakian, by Hovig Tchalian (27 KB)
The year 2004 saw the publication of the most recent paperback edition of Peter Balakian’s poetry. The slim, attractive volume, entitled June-Tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000, includes thirteen new works and selections from Balakian’s four previous collections.
Nov 2005 | The Lost Generation: The Poetry of David Kherdian, by Hovig Tchalian (22 KB)
The Armenian-American poet, novelist and essayist David Kherdian, has been writing for decades. His new book of poems, entitled Letters to My Father (2005), represents his latest effort.
Oct 2005 | Gevorg Emin: The Task of the Translator, by Hovig Tchalian (32 KB)
In a famous essay entitled “The Task of the Translator” (1923), the German-Jewish cultural critic, Walter Benjamin (1982-1940), describes “bad” translation as “the inaccurate transmission of an inessential content.”
Sep 2005 | Curious Sightings: Armenian Papers, by Hovig Tchalian (24 KB)
This week’s article looks at a collection of poems neither new nor recently re-published but nonetheless relevant. I refer to a curious collection of poems published by the American man of letters, Harry Mathews. The collection bears the even more curious title, Armenian Papers: Poems 1954-1984.
Aug 2005 | The Path Not Taken: My Brother's Road, by Hovig Tchalian (22 KB)
The recently published biography by Markar Melkonian, My Brother’s Road: An American’s Fateful Journey to Armenia, begins with an interesting premise—what kind of a man was the subject of the book and the author’s brother, Monte “Avo” Melkonian?
Jul 2005 | The Daydreaming Boy: A Debate, by Hovig Tchalian and Ara Oshagan (26 KB)
In last week’s article, the first in the Critics’ Forum series, I wrote about Micheline Aharonian Marcom’s 2004 novel, The Daydreaming Boy.
July 2005 | The Curse of History: The Daydreaming Boy, by Hovig Tchalian (24 KB)
Perhaps the best way of inaugurating our series on art and literature in the Armenian Diaspora is by looking back. In April of 2004, Riverhead Books published The Daydreaming Boy, the second book by Micheline Aharonian Marcom, a Saudi-born Armenian writer raised in Los Angeles.
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