The Art of Writing, the Fear of the Lord: Rethinking Armenian Networks of Spiritual, Cultural, and Linguistic Exchange during the Early Modern Period

Saturday, January 8, 2011: 11:50 AM
Harvard Room (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
Michael Pifer , University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
The rise of Armenian printing during the early modern period witnessed not only an explosion of knowledge and a redefinition of the role of language among the polycentric nodes of Armenian diasporic communities, but also facilitated an increased awareness about the networks of communication between those communities. The circulation of knowledge, which catalyzed a new mode of intellectual and spiritual interaction between a vastly diverse body of Armenians, scattered across Europe, Anatolia, the Middle East and India helped to define the very linguistic and cultural horizons wherein Armenian settlements were geographically delineated. Proper maintenance of—and even more importantly, control over—these networks of circulation of missionaries, codices, and merchants increasingly became a battle that was fought not only over the book market, but also over the physical boundaries of a conceptual diasporic whole itself. In my brief paper, I will attempt to fill a lacuna in Armenian Studies by demonstrating how these different networks of communication were collapsed into one another during the early modern period, bringing about a new epistemological framework for understanding the diverse constellation of Armenian settlements across the globe.