Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Rebecca Saunders

Second Advisor

Christopher C. De Santis

Third Advisor

Kristin Dykstra


This dissertation argues that any engagement with the diasporic literature of the Armenian genocide entails raising the question of translatability, developing critical lenses for reading against domesticating effects, and locating discontinuities that expose the translation as being a replacement of inassimilable experience with language(s).

Chapter one lays the ground for a translational approach to the study of the literature of the Armenian genocide on several levels: first, a text must be recognized as a site of verbal translation, or the replacement of the "foreign" experience with an intelligible language; second, it must be analyzed as a site of intralingual translation, which often entails the euphemization of expressions within the same linguistic system; and finally, it needs to be examined as a site of inter lingual translation, or translation proper.

Chapter two explores the ideological interests, literary norms, and other factors that have conditioned the translation and representation of trauma in Mabel Elliott's Beginning Again at Ararat (1924), Zabel Yesayan's Among the Ruins (1911), and Arshaluys Mardiganian' s Ravished Armenia ( 1918). It analyzes the do1nesticating effects of Elliott's and Mardiganian's texts that) in the fanner, solidify uniform and mutually unrelatable experiences in ~'the Orient" and "America," and in the latter, sensationalize and corrunodify tratunatic experience, while it argues that Yesayan 's translation violates the fluency of language in order. to signify the foreignness of traumatic experience.

Chapter three analyzes the ways in which Micheline Aharonian Marcon1·s novel The Daydreaming Boy (2004) conveys traumatic survival through a "foreignizing" translation of the experience of genocide orphans and problen1atizes American missionary progressivism and its disciplinary ideology of "character building." The chapter discusses how Marcom interrogatively mediates, akin to William Faulkner and Toni Morrison, a history of silenced voices.

The final chapter focuses on a translation-centered pedagogy and offers modes for rethinking the design of global and comparative literature courses in such a way that requires a double orientation, centering not only on the foreign experience and culture, but also the invisible power relations and hierarchies within the translating culture.


First and foremost, I am greatly indebted to my dissertation committee, Drs. Rebecca Saunders, Christopher De Santis, and Kristin Dykstra, for their invaluable input and professional enthusiasm that continuously stimulated, challenged, and reassured me in my vvork. I also wish to thank John O'Brien who first invited 1ne to join the program at Illinois State University, and who mentored 1ne through my initial years there. My deep gratitude goes to Anna Barseghian at Utopiana Cultural Center and Lara Aharonian at the Women's Resource Center who helped organize and fund my translation workshop in Yerevan, Armenia. Finally I would like to thank the Department of English at Illinois State University, the Armenian International Women's Association, and the Open Society Institute for the grants, which sustained me in the completion of this incredible project.