The University of Michigan Celebrates 30 Years of Armenian Studies


By ASP
Dec 16, 2011

Occasion is Marked by a series of Events over four Days on Campus

 

ANN ARBOR, MICH., Dec. 16, 2011

From October 13 to 16, 2011, the University of Michigan and the larger community celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern Armenian History and of the Armenian Studies Program itself. The events, stretched over four days, included a reception a special dinner, a special exhibit at the Hatcher Graduate Library, a presentation of Armenian films and a lecture on the subject, and a symposium. The second meeting of the three-year old project "Report on the State of Armenian Studies" was also held in conjunction with these activities.

 

 

Reception on Thursday, October 13, 2011

 A reception marking the occasion was held on October 13, 2011, in the sumptuous foyer of the University of Michigan's Museum of Art. Attending the reception were University administrators, faculty, students and staff; members of the community; and major donors to the Program, headed by Mr. Richard Manoogian, President of MASCO Corporation.

 Professor Ronald Suny, the first chairholder of the Alex Manoogian Chair acted as master of ceremonies. In his opening remarks, Professor Suny recognized a number of individuals who in different capacities, had been instrumental in the establishment of the first in Armenian studies chair at the University. Professor Suny related the difficult circumstances under which the program was set up and the long years of development, including the endowment of the second chair at the University in 1987, the Marie Manoogian Chair in Armenian Language and Literature, and the sustained support form Mrs. Louise Manoogian Simone and Mr. Richard Manoogian.

 

University Provost Philip Hanlon offered his congratulatory and supportive remarks in the following words, as did Dean Terrence McDonald, who has been instrumental in the efforts to expand the activities of the Program in the last five years. Professor Suny read a congratulatory and supportive letter from the President of the University of Michigan, Mar Sue Coleman, who could not attend the reception.

 

The last speaker was Mr. Richard Manoogian. Speaking on behalf of the Manoogian family, including his sister Louise Simone Manoogian, the speaker related the contributions his parents, Alex and Marie Manoogian had made toward the genesis and growth of Armenian studies in US academic institutions, culminating in the establishment of the two endowed chairs and Program at the University of Michigan. Mr. Manoogian thanked all who had made his parents' dream of a vibrant program possible.

 

"I know my parents who cared about every step in the development of the program, are present with us today, watching with shining eyes, the celebration of the dream which they ignited so many years ago," stated Mr. Manoogian. "My Sister Louise and I appreciate our family's 30 year partnership with the University of Michigan and thank all of you who have contributed to the success of the program. We eagerly look forward to many more years of productive scholarship and research in Armenian Studies," he concluded.

 

The reception was followed by a celebratory dinner attended by select faculty, administrators, and guests.

 

 

Special Exhibit: "Armenian Studies and the Libraries of the University of Michigan"

One of the highlights of the weekend was the special exhibit that opened to the academic and general community in the afternoon of October 14, 2011. The event, titled "Armenian Studies and the Libraries of the University of Michigan," took place in the Gallery of the Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

 

A short program consisted of comments by Mrs. Peggy Daub and Dr. Pablo Alvarez, Curators at Special Collections Library; and Professor Kevork Bardakjian, Marie Manoogian Chair in Armenian Language and Literature.

 

The exhibit, spanning centuries and continents, was made possible through the collaboration and rich holdings of a number of collections: The Hatcher Graduate Library of U-M in Ann Arbor; the Special Collections Library which holds four extraordinary Armenian manuscripts ranging from the 12th to the 17th centuries and other valuable archives and collections related to Armenian studies; the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn; and the holdings of the Armenian Studies program of the University. The items exhibited included medieval manuscripts, rare books, historical documents, archival materials, and samples of holdings of 19th and 20th journals.

 

 

Armenian Films and Lecture

Culminating a semester of presentations of Armenian films, in the evening of Firady, October 14, Manoogian Simone Foundation Visiting Scholar and cultural historian Dr. Artsvi Bakhchinyan of Yerevan offered two classic films: "Tjvjik" (Armen Manaryan director, 1961) and "A Piece of the Sky" (Henrik Malyan director, 1980). The presentation of the films was accompanied by a lecture by Dr. Bakhchinyan titled "A View of Armenian Cinema."

 

 

Symposium: "Armenia in World History, the World in Armenian History"

An exceptionally important aspect of the special weekend was the symposium on "Armenia in World History/the World in Armenian History," at which four scholars made presentations that excited and involved the large audience.

 

Prof. Sebouh Aslanian, the newly designated Richard G. Hovannisian Assistant Professor of Modern Armenian History at the University of California at Los Angeles, discussed "World History's Challenge to Armenian Studies," in which he pointed out many of the shortcomings approaches to Armenian history. Professor Stephen Rapp, an scholar trained at the U-M who is currently a research fellow at the University of Bern in Switzerland, discussed ways of understanding the earlier periods of Armenian history, those that precede the actual emergence and presence of the Nation. Professor Maud Mandel, a historian of Judaic Studies at Brown, also trained at Michigan, who has written an important comparative study of the reactions of the Armenian and Jewish communities of France to their respective genocides, discussed the ways in which a comparative historiography of diaspora identity may best be carried out by scholars. Finally, Michael Pifer, a doctoral student in comparative literature at the University of Michigan, delivered an impressive and indeed moving analysis of the Crane/Groong motif in Armenian literature and in the traditions adjacent to Armenia.

 

The second workshop on the "The State of Armenian Studies," a special project of the Armenian Studies Program at the University of Michigan, convened in conjunction with the activities marking the 30th anniversary of the Program (October 14-16) and will be covered separately.

 

(Videos of the reception, exhibit, symposium and lecture on Armenian films can be seen on the website of the Armenian Studies Program:  www.ii.umich.edu/asp)