Elizabeth Mkhitarian

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


FRESNO — Four scholars from the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) will discuss their research on Western Armenian in a panel discussion titled “Western Armenian in the 21st Century: Challenges and New Approaches” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 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.

Jesse Arlen

For the past few years, scholars have discussed how to best teach Western Armenian and to transmit the language to future generations. In November 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 language. 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 Der Mugrdechian. Four of the contributors to the volume will present their conclusions on September 6.

Dr. Shushan Karapetian is deputy director of the Institute of Armenian Studies at USC. She received a PhD 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 PhD Candidate of Armenian Studies in the Near Eastern Languages & 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.

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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 PhD 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.

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