The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture and the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University are pleased to announce the next lecture in the 2023–2024 East of Byzantium lecture series.
Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | 12:00 PM (EST, UTC -5) | Zoom
Language Care and Community: The Fashioning of Middle Armenian into a Courtly Vernacular
Michael Pifer, University of Michigan
The medieval vernacular of Middle Armenian was fashioned by many communities, beginning perhaps with the court of the Kingdom of Armenia in Cilicia, in Sis, in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Here a cohort of nobles, priests, and physicians collectively translated, composed, commissioned, and studied a wide array of texts, subtly aligning the status of their “rustic” vernacular into a companion of stately power. Yet although the last Armenian kingdom would fall to the Mamluks in 1375, Middle Armenian did not die with it. Instead, the language continued to travel and circulate in unlikely places. This talk takes a selective and comparative look at two of the communities that formed around this unruly and unstandardized tongue, before and after the fall of its kingdom. It argues that while these communities were different, a shared ethos of language care, or an attentiveness that shapes the social and epistemic uses of language in a particular time and place, can be teased out in each.
Michael Pifer is Assistant Professor of Armenian Language & Literature at the University of Michigan. Dr. Pifer is a specialist in Armenian cultural production with an emphasis on the development of vernacular Armenian literature during the medieval period. His work focuses on how Armenian literature developed alongside neighboring literary traditions within shared spaces. His interests turn around questions of multilingualism, mixed-script writing, and the ways in which premodern poets attempted to accommodate certain forms of cultural difference within their compositions. By decentering monolingual approaches to literary history, his research aims to contribute to knowledge about cross-cultural dialogism across the literary landscapes of premodern Armenia and its adjacent regions. He is the author of Kindred Voices: A Literary History of Medieval Anatolia (Yale University Press, 2021) and a coeditor of An Armenian Mediterranean: Words and Worlds in Motion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
Advance registration required. Register: https://eastofbyzantium.org/upcoming-events/
Contact Brandie Ratliff (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director, Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture with any questions.
An East of Byzantium lecture. EAST OF BYZANTIUM is a partnership between the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University and the Mary Jaharis Center that explores the cultures of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine empire in the late antique and medieval periods.