Armenian 124: Modern and Contemporary Armenian Literature across Empires, Nations, and Peoples

TuTh 5-6:30, Dwinelle 109. Instructor: Myrna Douzjian.

Units: 4 Satisfies L&S Arts & Literature or International Studies breadth requirement.

May be repeated for credit.

Twentieth-century Armenian literary production has a transnational history, tied to cultural centers in the Ottoman and Russian Empires, the Soviet Union, the Republic of Armenia, Iran, and a global diaspora. This traversal of geographical boundaries forms the basis for the organizational logic of this course, which focuses on some of the Armenian literary masterpieces of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These texts will offer a lens through which to view the socio-political contexts and cultural legacies that shape the attitudes of Armenian writers, artists, and intellectuals in our contemporary globalized world.

The course will blend short lectures on the texts’ historical background with discussions that focus on textual analysis. Several films will complement our discussions about Armenian culture. We will draw connections between our generically and thematically diverse readings by considering the following questions throughout the semester: What do works of literature suggest about Armenian cultural identity and the identities of various “others”? What is the relationship between culture and politics? How has this relationship evolved? How does literature represent catastrophic experiences (genocide, war, exile, and displacement)?

Requirements: class participation; 100-200 pages of reading/week; biweekly blog posts; two five-page papers; and individual project or final ten-page paper.

Texts for purchase (available on,, and Amazon):

Oshagan, Hagop. Remnants: The Way of the Womb. Trans. G.M. Goshgarian. Gomidas Institute, 2013. ISBN: 1909382086 or 9781909382107.

Sarafian, Nigoghos. The Bois de Vincennes. Trans. Atamian, Christopher. Armenian Research Center, 2011. ISBN: 1934548022 or 9781934548028.

Yessayan, Zabel. My Soul in Exile and Other Writings. Trans. G.M. Goshgarian, Jennifer Manoukian, and Nanore Barsoumian. AIWA Press, 2014. ISBN: 0964878771 or 9780964878778.

Texts to be provided by instructor include literary works by Aksel Bakunts, Krikor Beledian, Yeghishe Charents, Violet Grigoryan, Avetik Issahakian, Hakob Karapents, and Vahe Oshagan and scholarly works by Angela Harutyunyan and Eric Goodfield, Ronald Suny, and Khachig Tölölyan.

Prerequisites: None. Readings, lectures, and discussion in English. Students with knowledge of Armenian are encouraged to do at least some of the reading in Armenian.