Antonia Arslan Recipient of the Narekatsi Medal


LOS ANGELES — The Friends of the UCLA Armenian Language and Culture Studies will be recognizing Dr. Antonia Arslan’s dedication to Armenian culture and raising Genocide awareness by awarding her the Narekatsi medal. The presentation will take place at their eighth annual banquet to be held at the Walter and Laurel Karabian Hall of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) Arshag Dickranian Armenian School (1200 Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood) on Sunday, March 21, (reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and program).
Arslan, an Italian-Armenian writer and scholar, was born in Padua in 1938. Majoring first in archaeology, she went on to become a professor of modern and contemporary Italian literature at the University of Padua and hold the post of distinguished visiting professor at Fordham University.
Over the years she has also conducted a variety of seminars and lectures at many other universities in Europe and America. Her publishing career has been extremely prolific. She has authored and edited more than twenty books in addition to a series of articles, reviews, and translations. Her primary concern as a literary critic is the Italian literary canon, an issue she most recently addressed at her Dana Drake Lecture.
She has produced several important monographs on Dino Buzzati and the 19th-century popular novel (Dame, Droga e Galline;1977). Her groundbreaking studies have also focused on Italian popular women’s fiction and the oeuvre of Italian women writers of the 19th and 20th centuries (e.g. Dame, Galline e Regine; 1998, and Writing to Delight : Italian Short Stories by Nineteenth Century Women Writers, an anthology she edited with Gabriella Romani, University of Toronto Press: 2006), several of whose novels she has reprinted with her own introductions.
She has researched the characteristics of literature from the Venice region (Memory and Intelligence: The Literature of Venice from 1945 Until Today: 1988), popular literature (La Letteratura del Popolo: 1983), and contemporary prose and poetry by authors of the fantasy genre.
She has also sought to expand the offerings available in Italian regarding Armenian culture by editing Gérard Dédéyan’s classic Histoire des Arméniens from French and the entry on “Armenian Literature” in the
To increase awareness of the significance of the Armenian Genocide, she organized a convention in Padua in December 2000 on the issue and elaborated the theme with a series of activities over the next year. She also translated Claude Mutafian’s Metz Yeghern: A Brief History of the Armenian Genocide: 1995 (now in its enlarged fifth edition),as well as Vahakn Dadrian’s The History of the Armenian Genocide: 2003, and Donald Miller and Lorna Touryan Miller’s Survivors, 2007. Another area of her concern has been to explore the Armenian experience in Italy, including the life of the renowned writer Vittoria Aganoor, and the struggles of the Genocide refugees who settled there (The Armenians in Italy in the Twentieth Century, 1999, and From the Caucasus to Venice: The Armenians in History and Memory, 2003).
This latter theme is one she develops from a more personal perspective in her first novel La Masseria delle Allodole, published in 2004 by Rizzoli. Drawing on the history of her ancestors, it narrates the hardships of an Armenian family embroiled in the genocide. The title Skylark Farm relates to their house in the Anatolian hill country where the men of the family were slaughtered in May 1915.
The novel was selected as a finalist for the 2004 Premmio Campiello award and was awarded winner of that year’s Premio Stresa di Narrativa. The following year it won the P.E.N. Prize and Manzoni Prize, and was picked as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Seidenbaum First Fiction Award. It has been translated into several languages, including an English version by Geoffery Brock was published as Skylark Farm in 2008 by Knopf and an Armenian version translated by Dr. Sona Harutyunyan of the Armenian Studies Department of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. It also inspired the film “La Masseria Delle Allodole” by the illustrious Italian directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. This work is conceived as the first of a trilogy, the second volume of which, La Strada di Smirne, was published in 2009 by Rizzoli and is currently being translated for publication in Armenian.
The film “Skylark Farm” will be shown in the evening following the banquet on March 22.

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