Literary Conference at UCLA

LOS ANGELES–For the 90th anniversary of the Genocide–the Friends of UCLA Armenian Language and Culture Studies and the UCLA Narekatsi Chair of Armenian Studies have organized a conference dedicated to seven Armenian writers who lost their lives in that catastrophic event. The conference will take place Saturday–December 3–2005–2:00-6:00 PM at UCLA’s Rolfe Hall–room 1200.

Teotig–editor of the famous "Amenun Daretsoytse" from 1907-1929–was one of the few Armenian intellectuals that survived the Genocide. His yearbook usually consisted of 400-600 pages covering current events and included priceless photographs of important men and women of the time. In late 1919–he covered the years 1916-1920 in one slender volume of 332 pages. With this volume he attempted to bring his readers up to date on the occurrences just before–during–and after the Genocide. On page 5 of this work–Teotig bitterly recalls some horrific momen’s he experienced on that fateful day–back in 1915.

On April 24 (April 11 according to the calendar of the time)–Teotig was in prison for breaking censorship laws in his beloved yearbook. He had been fined and incarcerated for one year. He writes that he was looking out through the bars of his cell onto the square (Mehderhaneh) and he could see the Armenian intellectual elite–most of whom were his friends–being herded there. The next day they were taken away to their deaths. In an ironic twist he had just announced in the first pages of his 1914 yearbook that all able-bodied Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire had joined the army to fight for the fatherland in the Great War.

Among the intellectuals that perished during the Genocide were seven authors left behind a rich collection of Armenian poetry and prose. They are: Taniel Varuzhan–Siamanto–Krikor Zohrab–Rupen Sevag–Tlgadintsi–Rupen Zartarian–and Erukhan. These writers and others–including some that survived the Genocide (Vahan Tekeyan–Hagop Oshagan–Kostan Zarian)–had just breathed new life into Armenian literature after freedom of expression was granted to all Ottoman citizens the Constitution of 1908. The Genocide of 1915 derailed this exciting–new movement of Armenian literature in the early years of the 20th century.

The conference at UCLA–will pay homage to these seven great authors whose bones lie buried in unmarked graves but whose work lives on and has much to tell us even now.

Of the seven presentations at the conference–four will be in Armenian (Vatche Sepetjian on Erukhan–Minas Kojayan on Siamanto–Rubina Peroomian on Rupen Zartarian–and Anahid Aramouni on Rupen Sevag) and three will be in English (Professor Peter Cowe on Tlgadintsi–Rita Vorperian on Krikor Zohrab–and Gia Aivazian on Taniel Varuzhan).

The conference–once again–will be held on December 3–from 2:00 to 6:00 PM at 1200 Rolfe Hall–in UCLA. All are welcome.

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