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October 22, 2019 

On Tuesday 10, Hasmik Seymour, the founder of the Armenian Shakespeare Assossiation,  conducted a literary seminar in Vanadzor State University for professors and students of the Philological Faculty.

Hasmik Seymour, a theatre historian, translator and journalist, a scholar in the Queen Mary University of London, gave a seminar encompassing two sessions.

The first sessionpertained toArthur Miller’s, a distinguished American playwright of the 20th century, life and literary activity, followed bythe presentation of Seymour’s translations of some of Miller’s major plays and, more significantly, the discussion of the actuality of  staging Miller in Armenian theatres nowadays. Worthnotingly, the presentation featured video excerpts from some renowned plays of Miller (All My Sons, The Death of a Salesman) expected to reinforce the speaker’s intent of evoking associations with modern-day Armenian reality, and thus bringing the relevance of staging Miller in Armenian theatres to the fore. In this context the problematic issue of copyright laws in Armenian theatres was brought up with Seymour referring to Armenia as a ‘pirate country’. Seymour, as well gave an account of historical background of Miller’s works by alluding to McCarthysm and Miller’s defiance of it. The notion of the American Dream and its assumed links with the Armenian reality were touched upon in relation to Miller’s entrancing and at the same time perplexing (Willy Loman’s constant flashbacks) play The Death of a Salesman (1949). By the end of the session, Seymour gleefullydisplayed her published book of Miller’s plays’translations.

The second session, hold in English (for the professors and students of the English Language and Literature Faculty) was devoted to the towering figure of English literature –William Shakespeare. The scholar, first and foremost, tried to identify the extent to which the audience was acquainted with the life and literary career of the brilliant playwright. Thereafter, she posed a thought-provoking question: ‘‘How can we associateShakespeare with Armenians?’’ and some salient points, such as the universality of Shakespeare’s themes and his presumed similarity to Narekatsi, were discussed accordingly. On the next stage, Seymour provided a brief background on the history of England during the Renaissance highlighting the problems the playwright of the time was liable to face. Afterwards, more importantly, the scholar turned to the unveilment of Shakespearean links with Armenia postulating that little is known about Shakespeare’s early translations into Armenian, nonetheless, as she went on, in Joseph Emin’s autobiographical book  ‘‘The Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin, An Armenian’’(1792)the first records of Shakespeare among Armenians might be found. Seymour’s talk was accompanied by archival images of Shakespearean texts in Grapar (Shtemaran 1822), Western (Smyrna 1853) and Eastern Armenian respectively. Thereupon, she pontificated about the significance of The Armenian Shakespeare Association (ASA),established in 2016, aimed to unite Armenian and international intellectuals to enhance cultural exchange in Shakespearean research. More should be done, as she mentioned, to raise the awareness among international institutions about the significant contributions of Armenian translators in the field of global Shakespeare studies.

At the end of the seminar, Hasmik Seymour delineated the assets of pursuing a literary career, after which LusineVardanyan, the Head of the Chair of Foreign Languages, expressing profound gratitudeawarded the former with the certificate anticipating a further collaboration.


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