By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Author Peter Balakian, Class of 1973, will give the talk, "The Armenian Genocide and Modernity," on Thursday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.
The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the continuing Meerwarth Sociology and Anthropology guest speaker series, sponsored by the Bucknell Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
Balakian is the author of many books including The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response (HarperCollins, 2004). The Burning Tigris won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times Best Seller.
"Balakian's talk will be based on his book, The Burning Tigris," said Deborah Abowitz, professor of sociology at Bucknell. "With U.S.-Turkish relations threatened by the recent congressional resolution to acknowledge the genocide of the Armenians as genocide, this lecture provides a unique opportunity to learn more about what many genocide scholars see as the first 'modern' genocide, one to which Hitler paid especial attention."
In 1915, officials within the Ottoman Empire (what is now modern Turkey) began to arrest and uproot Armenians from their homes; many were executed immediately while others, including women, children, and the elderly, were force-marched to the desert of what is now Syria. The resulting genocide killed one and a half million of the two and a half million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
The Turkish government has long disputed the genocide. On March 4, 2010, it issued a statement critical of "this resolution which accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed."
Born and raised in Teaneck and Tenafly, N.J., Balakian holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bucknell and a doctorate in American civilization from Brown University. He is Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Professor of English, and Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University. He was the first Director of Colgate's Center for Ethics and World Societies.
Balakian's memoir, Black Dog of Fate won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Prize. It was a best book of the year for the New York Times, the LA Times, and Publisher's Weekly, and was recently issued in a 10th anniversary edition.
More recent publications include books of poetry June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000 (HarperCollins 2001) and his new book of poems Ziggurat to be published by University of Chicago Press in 2010.
Balakian is co-translator of Girgoris Balakian's Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1918 (Knopf, 2009) as well as the Armenian poet Siamanto's Bloody News From My Friend.
The author of a book on the American poet Theodore Roethke, Balakian edited with Bruce Smith the poetry journal Graham House Review from 1976-1996.
He is the recipient of many awards and prizes and civic citations including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry from the Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Anahit Literary Prize.
Foreign editions of his work have appeared in Armenian, Bulgarian, French, Dutch, Greek, German, Italian, and Turkish. He has appeared widely on national television and radio.
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