Four scholars to speak on ‘Western Armenian in the 21st Century: Challenges and New Approaches’

Dr. Shushan Karapetian, Deputy Director of the Institute of Armenian Studies at USC; Jesse Siragan Arlen, Ph.D. candidate of Armenian Studies at UCLA; Elizabeth Mkhitarian, author and poet; and Dr. Hagop Kouloujian, modern Western Armenian lecturer at UCLA.

Four scholars from USC and UCLA will discuss their research on Western Armenian in a panel discussion entitled “Western Armenian in the 21st Century: Challenges and New Approaches” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, at Fresno State. Armenian Studies Program Director Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian will moderate the discussion.

The presentation is part of the Armenian Studies Program Fall 2019 Lecture Series and is supported by the Leon S. Peters Foundation. 

For the past few years, scholars have discussed how to best teach Western Armenian and to transmit the language to future generations. In Nov. of 2017, the Society for Armenian Studies and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation organized a conference on “Transmitting Western Armenian to the Next Generation,” with the participation of six scholars. The conference was organized based on this discussion and from the 2010 report that UNESCO had placed Western Armenian on the list of the world’s endangered languages. The scholars at the conference presented the latest research in the field of language acquisition, which benefits from theoretical and practical approaches in the field of teaching minority languages in a diasporic situation. 

In 2018, The Press at California State University, Fresno published Western Armenian in the 21st Century: Challenges and New Approaches as part of the Armenian Series at Fresno State. The book was edited by Bedross Der Matossian and Armenian Studies Program Coordinator Barlow Der Mugrdechian. Four of the contributors to the volume will present their conclusions on Sept. 6. 

Dr. Shushan Karapetian is Deputy Director of the Institute of Armenian Studies at USC. She received a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from UCLA in 2014, where she has taught Armenian Studies courses for the past nine years. Her dissertation, “‘How Do I Teach My Kids My Broken Armenian?’: A Study of Eastern Armenian Heritage Language Speakers in Los Angeles,” received the Society for Armenian Studies Distinguished Dissertation Award in 2015.

Jesse Siragan Arlen is a Ph.D. Candidate of Armenian Studies in the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures department at UCLA. He has taught Western Armenian at a Sunday School since 2016, and his creative prose and poetry in Western Armenian has appeared in literary journals such as Inknagir and Pakine.

Elizabeth Mkhitarian graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English and Armenian Studies in 2018. She is a published writer of prose and poetry in English and Armenian. Her first book of poetry in Armenian is forthcoming.

Dr. Hagop Gulludjian received his Ph.D. with highest distinction from the Jesuit University of Buenos Aires. He has been teaching modern Western Armenian at UCLA for many years. His area of research is in poststructural rereading of medieval mystical poetry and in languages without a country: language vitality programs and their replicability.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in Lot P6 or P5 near the University Business Center (parking permits are not required on Fridays after 4:00 p.m.).For more information about the lecture please contact the Armenian Studies Program at 559-278-2669, visit our website, or visit our Facebook page.

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