“Misak Medzarents: Songs of Freedom, Defiance, and Joy”

FRESNO — Dr. James Russell, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University will speak on “Misak Medzarents: Songs of Freedom, Defiance, and Joy” at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011, in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, Rm. 191, on the Fresno State campus.
The lecture is part of the Armenian Studies Program Spring Lecture Series and is co-sponsored by the Armenian Students Organization at Fresno State. The Associated Students, Inc. at Fresno State have provided partial funding for the lecture.
The Western Armenian poet Misak Medzarents, who died of consumption in 1908 at the tender age of twenty-two, was in his linguistic and imaginative genius the rightful successor to Bedros Tourian, who had invented modern Armenian verse almost single-handed and died in 1872 at twenty of the same disease. Tourian raged against his cruel and untimely destiny, Medzarents foresaw the same; and neither ever enjoyed reciprocal love. But Medzarents’ poems, layered in the complex cadences and imagery of some two millennia of Armenian poetics, explode with a pantheistic vision of nature. They are suffused with a deep inner delight. His palette is bright and vivid, and can remind an English-speaking reader of William Blake or Walt Whitman. Why is this? What made him so different a man and an artist? Dr. Russell believes that part of the explanation is to be sought in his native village, a remote, fortified, hidden place where, mysteriously and almost miraculously, Armenians preserved their freedom for a thousand years.
Dr. James R. Russell is the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Professor Russell has authored over one hundred scholarly articles, many of which have been collected in his Armenian and Iranian Studies (2004). In addition to seminal investigations into the pre-Christian Iranian heritage of Armenian culture (Zoroastrianism in Armenia, 1987), Professor Russell has pioneered research into Armenian epic (The Heroes of Kasht, 2000), medieval Armenian poetry (Yovhann_s T’lkuranc’i and the Mediaeval Armenian Lyric Tradition, 1987), and modern Armenian poetry (The Book of Flowers, 2003). He is most recently the author of a study on and translation of the collected poems of Bedros Tourian entitled Bosphorus Nights (2006).
The lecture is free and open to the public. Relaxed parking will be available in the UBC (University Business Center) parking lot after 7:00 PM the night of the lecture. For more information on the lecture please contact the Armenian Studies Program at 278-2669.

1 comment
  1. Dr. Russell …
    Was very difficult to find you
    As I found so many James Russells
    You should write your name Dr.James Russellian
    As You sung for Armenians…
    You know about Armenians more than any one…
    You studied their heart…their language…
    Their poetic pristine soul…
    I wish I know as much as you know
    About a nation who lost so much…

    Because You sung for Us
    And you’re still singing
    Hope many decades more
    Inheriting for what you worked cordially so hard…
    Thus…I will sing for you
    Few of our songs
    Appreciating your talent…

    I’m sure you enjoyed real trust and humanity
    From unlucky…Artful nation
    Those who lost every thing
    But they will never lose their hopes…
    Hopes and praise
    That there’re still people like you
    Who sings with their pains
    From True Heart Through…

    Sylva Portoian, MD

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