FRESNO – A co-edited volume by Bedross Der Matossian and Barlow Der Mugrdechian entitled Western Armenian in the 21st Century: Challenges and New Approaches has been recently published by The Press at California State University, Fresno, 2019.
The book is the first in the newly launched Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) Publication Series published as part of the Armenian Series of The Press at California State University, Fresno. Subvention for the publication of the book was provided by the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Modern Western Armenian is considered an endangered language by UNESCO. Today Western Armenian is essentially a Diaspora language which was dramatically impacted by the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The post-Genocide period has posed a great challenge to the continued vitality of this important language. For the past few years, scholars have discussed how to best teach Western Armenian and to transmit the language to future generations. This volume brings together experts in the field of Western Armenian who focus on theoretical questions as well as practical suggestions in dealing with outdated pedagogical approaches. The volume presents the latest research in the field of language acquisition, which benefits from theoretical and practical approaches in the field of teaching minority languages in a diasporic situation. The list of contributors in the order of chapters are: Bedross Der Matossian and Barlow Der Mugrdechian, “Introduction”; Hratch Tchilingirian, “Western Armenian in the 21st Century: Issues of ‘thinking’ and ‘creating’ in Armenian”; Ani Garmiryan, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Language”; Jesse Siragan Arlen, “An Innovative Method for Teaching Western Armenian in Diaspora”; Shushan Karapetian, “Eastern Armenian Speakers as Potential Western Armenian Learners: Reflections on Second Dialect Acquisition”; Sylvia Kasparian, “For a Multilingual Approach in Teaching Modern Western Armenian in Diaspora Communities”; Hagop Gulludjian, “Language Vitality through ‘Creative Literacy’”; Elizabeth Mkhitarian, “’While I make a poem, I am being made by poetry’ Creative Writing in Heritage Language Instruction” and Vartan Matiossian, “In Lieu of a Conclusion.”
“This collection of essays is a striking response to the crisis of contemporary Western Armenian. It offers articles from multiple, heterogeneous perspectives, written by experts who have both theoretical and instructional experience and articulate views ranging from the importance of creating linguistic communities to the use of creative writing in language classrooms. Even the most visionary article also offers some strikingly innovative yet practical suggestion. The broader public of the Armenian diaspora and in particular its language teachers, school trustees and administrators, as well as writers, can and must learn from it.”
Khachig Tölölyan, Wesleyan University
“Western Armenian’s future is one of the most frequently debated topics in contemporary discussions of the Armenian diaspora. Reaching beyond the sensationalism that often frames the discourse of language vitality, this compelling collection of essays opens up new approaches to Western Armenian instruction, training, and transmission. The result is a fabulous volume that will become an integral resource for educators, researchers, and language activists.”
Talar Chahinian, UC Irvine
About the editors:
Bedross Der Matossian is an Associate Professor of Middle East History at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is the President of the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) and the author of the award-winning book Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2014) and the co-editor of Routledge Handbook on Jerusalem (Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2018).
Barlow Der Mugrdechian is the Coordinator of the Armenian Studies Program and Director of the Center for Armenian Studies at California State University, Fresno. He is the general editor of the Armenian Series of the Press at California State University, Fresno. He is the editor of Between Paris and France: Armenian Studies in Honor of Dickran Kouyumjian (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Press, 2008). He is the former President of the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS).