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Center for Armenian Studies pres.

ASP Lecture | Overwhelming Absurdity: Vahé Oshagan’s Discourse of Diasporic Culture

Karen Jallatyan, 2019-20 Manoogian Postdoctoral Fellow, U-M

Cover of Crossroads («Քառուղի»), Vahé Oshagan, Beirut, 1971. Painter: Vahé Barsoumian Cover of Crossroads («Քառուղի»), Vahé Oshagan, Beirut, 1971. Painter: Vahé Barsoumian
Cover of Crossroads («Քառուղի»), Vahé Oshagan, Beirut, 1971. Painter: Vahé Barsoumian
This lecture investigates how an obsession with the absurd informs Vahé Oshagan’s (1922-2000) vision of diasporic Armenian culture across his poetry, prose, and criticism. How has the absurd shaped Oshagan’s works over time? How has it influenced his paradoxical and provocative reappropriation of myth as a mode of witnessing the tragically absurd human existence? Dr. Jallatyan will elaborate on the problematic of the absurd (meaninglessness) as being inspired by a post-World War II European preoccupation with existentialism. By tracing the transformations of these configurations in Oshagan’s meta-historiographic and meta-allegorical works from the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Jallatyan will pay special attention to how the problematic of the absurd shaped Oshagan’s poetics and conception of language. The lecture will conclude with a discussion on decisive and singular features of Oshagan’s dynamic mode of negotiating difference for a diasporic culture.

Karen Jallatyan received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2019. His dissertation, entitled “Becoming Diaspora: Global Armenian Literature and Film after 1950,” draws attention to the specifically post-national and post-catastrophic nature of diasporic Armenian culture in Western Armenian. It argues that finding ways to let Western Armenian language and literature thrive in a multicultural context is the only adequate response to the needs of this surviving culture.

Image: Cover of Crossroads («Քառուղի»), Vahé Oshagan, Beirut, 1971. Painter: Vahé Barsoumian

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Cover of Crossroads («Քառուղի»), Vahé Oshagan, Beirut, 1971. Painter: Vahé Barsoumian Cover of Crossroads («Քառուղի»), Vahé Oshagan, Beirut, 1971. Painter: Vahé Barsoumian
Cover of Crossroads («Քառուղի»), Vahé Oshagan, Beirut, 1971. Painter: Vahé Barsoumian

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