Summer School in Languages (Armenian, Persian, Turkish) and Connected Histories

Yerevan, Armenia
July 15 - August 15, 2019


Yerevan, Armenia July 15 - August 15, 2019

This intensive summer program took place between July 15 and August 15, 2019, lasting four weeks. The program consisted of three parallel language courses – Intermediate/Advanced Western Armenian, Intermediate/Advanced Persian and Elementary Turkish – and a series of seminars devoted to topics in connected histories of Armenia, Iran and Anatolia. 

The language classes were held in separate groups five days a week four hours per day. The syllabi of the language courses were custom designed taking into consideration the students’ research interests. 

The syllabus of the Persian course covered poetry written in Classical Persian (Khayyam, Saadi) Safavid-era historical writing (Ḥasan Beg Rūmlū, Iskandar Beg Munshī, Sheikh Bahā’ī, Ebn Bazzāz Ardabīlī), Safavid hagiography (Ebn Bazzāz Ardabīlī)), Mughal-era pharmacopoeias, modern political thought (Shariati, Al-e-Ahmad, Soroush), modern literature (Jamalzadeh), as well as academic texts on history, politics and sociology. The Armenian course focused on the nineteenth-century sources and covered a variety of genres: short story and essays (Odian, Baronian), rhetoric (Yesaian), philosophical essays (Hattedjian, Sarafian), autobiography (Teotig), poetry (Zahrad), epistolography (Varujan), as well as  academic texts on history and religion (Terzian, Keleshian, Alishan). The Turkish course introduced basics of grammar and lexicology, focusing on connections between Turkish and other languages of the Middle East. 

Afternoon activities included film screenings, visits to the manuscript library (Matenadaran) and the Safavid-era Blue Mosque, a poetry reading evening and a series of lectures covering such topics as history of Yerevan (Mark Grigorian), Urartu studies (Gregory Areshian), connected histories of Iran and Deccan (Keelan Overton), linguistic diversity of the Caucasus (Nikita Bezrukov), Persian and Armenian medieval poetics (Polina Ivanova) and entanglements of Persian and Armenian musical traditions (Mehdi Hesamizadeh).

As part of the program the students also had  a chance to visit several historical monuments outside of Yerevan: Spitakavor Vank – a fourteenth-century monastery built by an Armenian noble family closely associated with the Ilkhanids of Iran, a medieval Jewish cemetery at Yeghegis, and Selim Caravanserai – the only surviving medieval caravanserai preserved in Armenia. 

A heartfelt thank you goes to everyone who contributed to this program!

Instructors and guest speakers:

Maryam Torabi, Yerevan State University

Harout Marashlian, American University of Armenia

Polina Ivanova, Harvard University

Mark Grigorian, National Museum-Institute of Architecture

Gregory Areshian, American University of Armenia

Keelan Overton, Independent

Nikita Bezrukov. University of Pennsylvania 

Mehdi Hesamizadeh, Independent