Research: Cultural Memory. Soviet Past and Its Reflection in Literature

On 01.04.2022 a start was given to the project entitled Cultural Memory. Soviet Past and Its Reflection in Armenian Literature. Three researches were carried out throughout the project, the aim of the research was to study the cultural memory reflected in the Soviet and post-Soviet Armenian literature.  The aim of the project was to find the traces of that memory in works of fiction, literary press and archives. The final conference was held within the framework of the project on November 15th at Yeghishe Charents house-museum.  You can read about the conference here

The topics of the researches and the research groups chosen are as follows: 

Literary Resistance and Intellectual Freedom in 60s and 70s.
Research group: Hrach Bayadyan and Mariam Karapetyan

Using properly selected literary texts, we will try to outline some aspects of the Soviet-Armenian social and cultural situation of the 1960s and 1970s in the context of changes taking place in the Soviet Union (liberalization, re-establishment of pressures and restrictions, etc.). We will dig into the ideological, figurative diversity of the literary products of that period and investigate how some prevailing ideas, norms, values ​​were expressed, interpreted, or disputed in those texts. We do hope that this research will give a better picture of ​​the relationship between ideological and institutional coercion and cultural expression in Soviet times.

Hrach Bayadyan

Hrach Bayadyan is a cultural critic. He is a Media and Cultural Studies lecturer at Yerevan State University. He also teaches at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Yerevan. In the recent years, Bayadyan’s research interests have predominantly referred to a broad, yet almost unexplored field, which can be initially described as “Eastern Armenian modernity.” This provides a certain perspective to examine various aspects of the Armenian cultural experience during the Soviet and Post-Soviet periods. Bayadyan tries to use approaches and tools of contemporary critical fields of studies, such as Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Studies or Cultural Studies. His recent research articles reflect on the issue of “national culture” and modes of cultural resistance in the Soviet Armenia, the emergence of consumer culture and the transformations of urban spaces in the Post-Soviet Armenia. In 2020 he published a new book Imagining the Past: Narratives of Soviet Armenian Modernity (in Armenian). 

Mariam Karapetyan

Mariam was born in 1987 in Artik. 1994-2004 studied at Artik school N4. In 2010 graduated from Yerevan State University Faculty of Journalism receiving Master’s degree with merits. In 2015 she received a PhD on topic “Armenia-Europe civilizational relations in the Armenian press of the 1990s”.  

Since 2010 she has been lecturing at YSU Faculty of Journalism. Since 2020 Mariam has been an associate professor at the Chair of Communication of New Media. She is the author of a number of scientific and publicist articles and a collection of lectures. Preferred research areas are media studies, cultural studies, literary studies. 

Urban Memory: Vernacular Yerevan in the Context of Soviet Literature.
 Research group: Tigran
Amiryan and Sona Kalantaryan

In the Soviet period urban spaces of Armenia underwent active transformation and development, especially in Yerevan. Disagreements over these transformations, memories of urban space, and directions for their development have been reflected in many literary works.

In the framework of this research, we will study the picture of urban space in literary works, focusing primarily on vernacular districts. For example, the major theme of a number of Armenian writers (Mkrtich Armen, Eduard Avagyan and others) was the parts of the city with squatter settlements, which allows to analyze not only the Soviet city, but pre-Soviet constructions and transformation of architectural thought.

Together with the transformation of vernacular districts these authors depicted also the new manifestation of vernacular life and collective memory in the context of the Soviet culture, which also will be in the focus of our research.

Tigran Amiryan

Tigran Amiryan is the co-founder and president of Cultural & Social NArratives Laboratory (CSN lab). A professor of Contemporary World Literature, semiologist, literary critic, curator, and contemporary culture researcher, Dr Amiryan has authored numerous articles on postmodern genres of literature, interdisciplinary analysis, contemporary comparative analytics, sociology of literature, etc. Dr Amiryan’s main interest revolves around the issue of narrativization of both individual and collective memory in contemporary culture, artistic (fictional) representation, as well as history of the self, biographies, urban space, and environment that keep the memory of people’s lives despite oblivion and destruction. Dr Amiryan has authored a research paper They Conspired…: Conspiracy Detective Fiction from Dan Brown to Julia Kristeva (2013), as well as is the translator and author of Michel Foucault & Literature: Collection of Academic Papers (St. Petersburg: Aletheia, 2015). 

Sona Kalantaryan

Sona Kalantaryan is the co-founder of the “Laboratory of Social and Cultural Narratives” NGO. She is a journalist-culturologist. Recent research has focused on the narrative of women, urban feminism, and the experience of women in the urban space. Her earlier research activity was dedicated to the analysis of the activities of women authors in the Soviet-post-Soviet regions of Armenian literature, and the problems related to it. Sona has co-authored a number of books dedicated to the problems of urban space and the narration of memory. 

Literature Textbooks as a Tool for Creating Homo-Soveticus: Armenian Literature in Soviet Scools.
Research group:
Vahram Danielyan and Arthur Mirzoyan

The formation of the Soviet Union as a social-political system became possible with the help of numerous factors. One of them was the formation of theCitizen of the Union, which  in its turn was possible  including through the use of educational and cultural tools, among which the school curricula and textbooks played significant role. Our study will try to find out/make an effort to reveal what is the role of the school curricula and textbooks in Armenian literature in forming a Citizen of the Union.

Vahram Danielyan

Vahram Danielyan is a lecturer at the American University of Armenia. He teaches Armenian Language and Literature and Professional Communication. 2010-2011 he was a Manoogian Simone postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 2011-2018 he was Assistant Professor at the Yerevan State University, Department of Modern Armenian Literature. 

Vahram has participated in many conferences and workshops in Armenia and abroad (UCLA, University of Michigan, University of California – Berkeley).  

He is the author of several articles. The most recent deals with the romanesque genre from historical, political, and geographic perspectives. 

Arthur Mirzoyan

Arthur Mirzoyan was born in 1998, in Yerevan. In 2013 he graduated from  basic school No. 45, in 2016 – “Ayb” High School, then entered YSU Faculty of Armenian Philology, Department of Armenian Language and Literature, which he graduated with honors in 2020. Since 2020 he has been studying for a master’s degree at the same faculty of the university. 

Since 2021 he has been working at the American University of Armenia as an Armenian language and literature teaching assistant. He is also a freelance translator and is fluent in Armenian, English and Russian.