From Venice to Madras: Early Modern Armenian Print Culture

AHA Session 47
Friday, January 6, 2012: 9:30 AM-11:30 AM
Huron Room (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Sebouh D. Aslanian, University of California, Los Angeles

Session Abstract

Global Armenian Print Culture: Exploring the Quincentenary of the Armenian Book

This panel brings together scholars whose work examines various facets of the rich history of Armenian print culture from the publication of the first Armenian book in 1512 to the late eighteenth century. The adoption of print culture in Armenian diasporic communities across Eurasia—beginning in Venice and spreading to Constantinople, Amsterdam, Marseilles before moving east to New Julfa, Madras, Calcutta, and Yerevan, among other locations—had enormous social and cultural implications for Armenians as they entered the early modern age. The book, as many scholars have noted, was “a force for change.” The mechanical reproduction of knowledge embodied in its pages spawned new reading publics among diasporic Armenians and helped preserve and standardize the Armenian canon heretofore preserved in manuscripts. The printed book multiplied literacy, enabled learning and knowledge (both old and new) to circulate faster and farther than ever before, and laid the foundations of protonationalist discourses that flourished in the nineteenth century. The papers on this panel seek to mark the quincentenary of the coming of the Armenian book by exploring different dimensions of the impact of printing on Armenians in the early modern period.


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