Poet Misak Medzarents (1886–1908) is known for his lyrical idylls and elegies of nature and [...]traditional rural life. Scholars agree that his subject matter, while largely personal, was also considered to be “acceptable” during a period of stifling censorship. James Russell, a professor of Armenian studies at Harvard University, further argues that Medzarents hoped to construct a new kind of Armenia through his poetry—one rooted in land and arms, rather than in urban life, trade, and money.
Medzarents is credited with helping to create a viable Armenian national language. To that end, Russell attempts to relate this to parallel contemporary developments in the Russian Empire among the Jews—the forging of Zionism and the resurrection of Hebrew—in his lecture, “Calm Before the Storm: The Armenian Poet Misak Medzarents on the Threshold of the Genocide.”
Russell’s books include Bosphorus Nights: The Complete Lyric Poems of Bedros Tourian (2006), Armenian and Iranian Studies (2006), The Book of Flowers (2003), The Heroes of Kasht: An Armenian Epic (2000), Zoroastrianism in Armenia (1987), and Yovhannes T'lkuranc'i and the Mediaeval Armenian Lyric Tradition (1987).
Hosted by Simon Payaslian, holder of the Charles K. and Elisabeth M. Kenosian Chair in Modern Armenian History and Literature, and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) on October 13, 2010.