‘Black Dog of Fate’ Expanded Edition Twelve Years After

Reading by Balakian, Discussion with Professors Winter, Kalaidjian, and Dabashi at Columbia

 Three noted professors from Yale, Emory, and Columbia Universities will address various themes from Peter Balakian’s bestselling memoir Black Dog of Fate, and author Balakian himself will present a reading from the new 10th anniversary edition of the book at a Columbia Armenian Center event on Friday evening, March 27 in New York City. Jay Winter from Yale and Walter Kalaidjian of Emory are the two main speakers, and Hamid Dabashi of Columbia will serve as master of ceremonies.

Peter Balakian
Peter Balakian

 Balakian’s Black Dog of Fate has been in continuous print since its publication, having gone through 24 printings. It received great publicity in the American media, including reviews in many major newspapers like the New York Times, and discussions on television programs like “Charlie Rose.” University courses in various parts of the United States use this work, sometimes as a required text. It has helped spread public knowledge and discussion of the Armenian Genocide in this country and abroad in a way that more formal academic monographs cannot. Written with the style and insight of a poet, it remains personal and accessible while dealing with issues of violence, genocide, and nationalism that continue to haunt the world to this day. Balakian’s work has no doubt been one of a number of factors leading to a greater awareness and understanding of the events of the Armenian Genocide in the West in the last decade or so. Important public figures like Samantha Powers have relied on Balakian’s work as a source for their own writing.

Black Dog of Fate has just come out in an enlarged edition, 12 years after its original publication, which includes two new chapters about Aleppo and Der Zor. This is an appropriate time, therefore, to step back and examine this important contemporary work and its continuing influence. The participants in the program at Columbia are well prepared for this task.

Jay M. Winter is the Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University. A specialist on World War I and its impact on the 20th century, Winter is the author or co-author of one dozen books, and the editor of many more, including America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Winter was co-producer, co-writer, and chief historian for the PBS series “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century,” which won an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, and a Producers Guild of America Award for best television documentary in 1997. Winter obtained his B.A. from Columbia and his graduate degrees from Cambridge University.

Walter Kalaidjian is Professor of English at Emory University. He has authored four books on 20th-century American literature, and is the editor of the Cambridge Companion to American Modernism. His research and teaching focus on transnational modern and contemporary literature and culture specializing in poetics, critical theory, and psychoanalysis. He has examined poetry on the Armenian Genocide, including Peter Balakian’s works in The Edge of Modernism: American Poetry and the Traumatic Past. A recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Kalaidjian in his forthcoming research explores textual linkages among globalization, terrorism, and extraordinary experience. He earned his B.A. from Kenyon College, and his doctorate from the University of Illinois.

Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, the oldest and most prestigious chair in Iranian studies in the United States. Dabashi has written 18 books and edited 4. His writings are on subjects including Iranian studies, medieval and modern Islam, comparative literature, world cinema, and the philosophy of art (trans-aesthetics). Born in Ahvaz, Iran, he went to college in Tehran and received a dual Ph.D. in the sociology of culture and Islamic studies from the University of Pennsylvania. His books and articles have been translated into Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Hebrew, Danish, Arabic, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Urdu, and Catalan. A committed teacher for nearly three decades, Dabashi is also a public speaker around the globe, a current affairs essayist, and a staunch anti-war activist.

Balakian is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University, and author of several books of poetry and literary criticism, as well as the New York Times bestseller The Burning Tigris, which won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize. Soon his co-translation of Archbishop Krikoris Balakian’s seminal memoir, Armenian Golgotha, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf.

The evening program will begin at 6 p.m. with a reception with mezze at Columbia University’s International Affairs Building, Room 1501 (Kellogg Center), at 420 W. 118 St. Admission is complimentary. For more information, email arkuna@earthlink.net.

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