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December 2017: Literature and Liminality: Exploring the Armenian in-Between

Organizers: Maral Aktokmakyan, 2017-18 Manoogian Post-doctoral Fellow; and Michael Pifer, Lecturer, Department of Near Eastern Studies

Michael Pifer, University of Michigan
"Armenian Adaptations: An Approach to Medieval Literary History"

David Kazanjian, University of Pennsylvania
"'To Be Undone By Another': Notes on Armenian Liminality"

Maral Aktokmakyan, University of Michigan
"The Villager and Its Bare Life: Hagop Mntzouri's 'Passages in the Places I Have Been'"

Discussant: Catherine Brown, University of Michigan

For questions or to access pre-circulated papers please contact Michael Pifer ( or Maral Aktokmakyan (

It is a common trope to refer to Armenia as historically divided between other lands, empires, and peoples. But what does it mean to be in-between? This workshop will examine the liminality—both as a theme and as a quality—in and of Armenian literature.

Rather than locating Armenia as a distinct interstice between otherwise ontologically stable powers, places, and ways of being, this workshop seeks to grapple with how liminality in Armenian literature might unsettle binary divisions of many kinds--between self and other, center and periphery, urban and rural, modern and premodern, native and foreign, and even Armenian and “Odar.” How has liminality—geographic, literary, linguistic, temporal—shaped Armenian cultural production? How might we read it? And how might it shape the ways in which we approach Armenian literature as our object of study?

Photo caption: Church of the Holy Redeemer- Ani/Kars | Photo credit: Gokhan Toka, Nov. 2011