News & Events

Dumbarton Oaks/ HMML Syriac and Armenian Summer School

Dumbarton Oaks/ HMML Syriac and Armenian Summer School

July 10 to August 12, 2017

Building on a successful program last summer, Dumbarton Oaks in
collaboration with HMML, announces two intensive five-week courses
introducing Syriac and Classical Armenian language and paleography in summer
of 2017. The program, sponsored and funded by Dumbarton Oaks, will be hosted
at HMML. The summer school will run from July 10 to August 12, 2017. The
audience is doctoral students or recent PhDs who can demonstrate a need to
learn Syriac or Armenian for their research. Note that it is not possible to
enroll in both courses.

Approximately ten places will be available in each course. Costs for
tuition, housing, and meals will be covered by Dumbarton Oaks. The selected
participants will be responsible for their own travel costs to and from
Saint John’s University (nearest airport: Minneapolis-St Paul). The program
welcomes international applicants but does not sponsor J visas.

Course Offerings
The Summer School will consist of morning and afternoon sessions
Monday-Friday, complemented by guest lectures and other learning
opportunities, as well as social events and enjoyment of the beautiful
2700-acre campus with woods, lakes, and notable architecture.

Prior familiarity with basic Syriac or Armenian grammar is not a
prerequisite but some preparation will be required before arrival, as
directed by the instructors. The courses will include an introduction to
paleography and to the study and use of manuscripts, especially those now
available in the vHMML Reading Room from HMML’s vast collection of digitized
Syriac and Armenian manuscripts.

Following this intensive course, students will be fully equipped to continue
reading on their own or to enter reading courses at other institutions.

Kristian Heal, Brigham Young University (Syriac)
Sergio LaPorta, California State University, Fresno (Armenian)
Michael Pifer, University of Michigan (Armenian)
Salam Rassi, American University of Beirut (Syriac)

Accommodation and Costs
Students will be housed in shared apartments on the Saint John’s University
campus. Each participant will have a private bedroom and bathroom, with
shared kitchen and laundry facilities. A meal contract at the student
Refectory will be provided. All expenses will be covered by Dumbarton Oaks,
apart from travel to and from Saint John’s University.

Requirements for Admission
Applicants must be either enrolled doctoral students in good standing with a
demonstrated need to learn Syriac or Armenian for their research, or recent
PhDs, including early-career faculty members, who can demonstrate the value
of Syriac or Armenian for their teaching and research. A basic familiarity
with the Syriac or Armenian writing systems and principal script-forms will
be presumed upon arrival. Those accepted into the program will be informed
about resources to help them in their preparation.

Application Procedure
Applications are due January 15, 2017. The application letter should include
a description of the applicant’s academic background (including language
skills) and an explanation for why learning Syriac or Armenian is important
for future research and teaching. Letters should be no more than two
single-spaced pages in length. Along with it the applicant should send a
curriculum vitae. Graduate-student applicants should also supply a
transcript of the graduate school coursework (or undergraduate transcript if
the former is not available). Two letters of recommendation should be sent

The application letter and recommendations should be addressed to Fr.
Columba Stewart, OSB, Executive Director of HMML. Letters and other
materials may be sent as email attachments to with
“Syriac [or Armenian] Summer School” in the subject line.

Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of previous academic achievement,
demonstrated need for intensive study of Syriac or Armenian, and research
promise. Awards will be announced in late February 2017, and must be
accepted by March 15, 2017.

About Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an institute in
Washington, D.C., administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. It
supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, Garden and
Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships and internships,
meetings, and exhibitions. Located in residential Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks
welcomes researchers at all career stages who come to study its books,
objects, images, and documents. It opens its doors to the public to visit
its historic Gardens, designed by Beatrix Farrand; its Museum, with
world-class collections of art; and its Music Room, for lectures and
concerts. The institute disseminates knowledge through its own publications
(such as Dumbarton Oaks Papers and symposium volumes) as well as through the
Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (published by Harvard University Press).
Dumbarton Oaks also makes accessible ever more of its resources freely online.
The founding donors, Robert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss, called
upon future policy-makers “to remember that Dumbarton Oaks is conceived in a
new pattern, where quality and not number shall determine the choice of its
scholars; that it is the home of the Humanities, not a mere aggregation of
books and objects of art; that the house itself and the gardens have their
educational importance and that all are of humanistic value.” These
ambitions continue to guide Dumbarton Oaks, but with close attention to
ensuring that the Blisses’ “new pattern” retains its vitality through
constant renewal.

About Saint John’s University
Saint John’s Abbey and University is located in central Minnesota
approximately 90 miles northwest of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint
Paul. Set amid 2,700 acres of varied terrain, the campus is remarkable in
its natural beauty and includes wetlands, several lakes, an oak savanna, a
restored prairie, and hiking trails that wind through an extensive pine and
hardwood forest.  The natural beauty of the landscape inspires spiritual and
artistic reflection and fosters the Benedictine traditions of creativity,
scholarship, education and environmental respect. The buildings at Saint
John’s date from the 1860s and are arranged in a series of quadrangles and
courtyards. The Abbey Church, one of 10 campus buildings designed by
renowned mid-century modernist architect Marcel Breuer, commands a central
presence. With its towering bell banner and three-story wall of stained
glass, the Abbey Church is among the most striking pieces of 20th-century
architecture in the world.

Saint John’s University has an undergraduate college for men in partnership
with the College of Saint Benedict for women, as well as a graduate School
of Theology.  Saint John’s is also home to Saint John’s Preparatory School,
the Liturgical Press, the Episcopal House of Prayer, the Collegeville
Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, Saint John’s Pottery, and
the Saint John’s Arboretum. Saint John’s is also the home of The Saint
John’s Bible, the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned in the
western world in more than 500 years.