UCLA Conference to Mark 500 Years of Armenian Printing

An old Armenian printed manuscript

LOS ANGELES—From Nov. 10-11, the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA will host an international conference titled “Port Cities and Printers: Five Centuries of Global Armenian Print” in honor of Prof. Richard Hovannisian.

From its origins in Venice in 1512, the history of early modern (1500-1800) Armenian print culture was closely entangled with that of port cities, initially in Europe and subsequently in Asia. In fact, virtually every Armenian printing press before 1800 was established either in or close to port cities, and the few that were not, owed their existence to ongoing relations with port locations. Yet, despite the obvious relationship between ports and printers, their synergetic relationship has thus far largely eluded scholarly attention. Convened on the quincentenary of the printing of the first Armenian book, this conference explores the intimate relationship between port cities and printers in the rich history of global Armenian print culture.

The conference will be convened by Dr. Sebouh D. Aslanian, the holder of the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair of Modern Armenian History at UCLA, and is co-sponsored by the UCLA Department of History, the UCLA G. E. Von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies, the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the UCLA Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research  (NAASR), and is made possible by a generous grant by Mark Chenian. The conference will kick off with a keynote address on the topic of the history of books and reading in the early modern Atlantic world, not directly related to Armenian print history, at Royce Hall 314 on Friday evening at 5 p.m.  Starting on Saturday morning at 9:15 a.m. scholars of Armenian print and book history will hold back-to-back panels on various aspects of Armenian book history ranging from the question of the crucial shift from Manuscript to Print culture in the early decades of the 1500s to the relationship between merchants, ports, and printers, as well as the social and cultural role of print technology in shaping the arc of Armenian history. The Saturday and Sunday panels will be held at Rolfe Hall 1200 on the UCLA campus from 9:15 AM to 6:00 PM. The conference is free and open to the public.

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