AboutMichael Pifer is a medievalist and literary scholar of premodern Armenia and its adjacent regions. His research focuses on the movement of narratives, tropes, genres, rhetoric, and styles across linguistic boundaries. He is currently working on a project on the historical development of Middle Armenian for the European Research Council funded project “Armenia Entangled.”
In particular, Pifer examines the way in which multilingualism served as a connective tissue between seemingly disparate literary cultures in the pre-modern world. His publications on Armenian literary culture (Classical, medieval, early modern, and modern) have appeared in Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, The Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies, Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, Medieval Encounters, and elsewhere. His translations of Western Armenian poetry have appeared in Dibur and Absinthe: A Journal of World Literature in Translation.
He has taught courses in Classical Armenian at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library and Fresno State University, as well as co-organized independent studies at the Mesrop Mashtots Institute for Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan, Armenia, with Sergio La Porta. Currently, he teaches courses on Armenian Studies at the University of Michigan.
EducationPhD, University of Michigan, Comparative Literature (2014)
Certificate in World Literature, Institute for World Literature, Harvard / Bilgi University (2012)
PublicationsRecent Articles / Book Chapters
The Diasporic Crane: Discursive Migration across the Armenian-Turkish Divide, in Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies
. Link to Project Muse
The Rose of Muḥammad, the Fragrance of Christ: Liminal Poetics in Medieval Anatolia, in Medieval Encounters
. Link to Brill
The Forgetful Figure: Armenian Representations of Trauma in Aṛakʿel of Tabriz and Shahan Shahnur, in the Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies. Read on Project Muse
The Age of the Gharīb: Strangers in the Medieval Mediterranean, in An Armenian Mediterranean: Words and Worlds in Motion
, ed. Pifer and Babayan.
Mesrop Maštoc’, Inventor of the Armenian alphabet, Encyclopedia Iranica
. Link to Brill
Kindred Voices: A Literary History of Medieval Anatolia
(Yale University Press, 2021)
An Armenian Mediterranean: Words and Worlds in Motion
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)
Entangled Literatures and Histories in the Premodern Ottoman World
, special issue of the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, co-edited with N. İpek Hüner Cora. (Read on JSTOR
; on Project Muse
is involved as a team member in Project ArmEn
(Armenia Entangled: Connectivity and Cultural Encounters in Medieval Eurasia 9th – 14th Centuries), funded by a grant from the European Research Council and led by Dr. Zara Pogossian.
This project seeks to establish a new framework for studying the Armenian plateau and the wider area around it stretching from the south of the Caucasus mountain range to Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia (henceforth CAM) as a space of cultural entanglements between the 9th to 14th centuries.
The project is based on the premise that this region is key to understanding the history of medieval Eurasia but has so far been largely neglected by the burgeoning field of Global Middle Ages. The CAM was on the crossroads of expanding Eurasian empires and population movements, but was removed from major hubs of power, like Baghdad, Cairo, Constantinople, or Qara Qorum. Poly-centrism, political, ethno-linguistic, and religious heterogeneity, and frequently shifting hegemonic hierarchies were crucial aspects of its, nevertheless, inter-connected landscape. This fluidity and complexity left its mark on the cultural products – textual and material – created in the CAM. Exploring this production is at the centre of the project ArmEn.
MembershipsSociety for Armenian Studies
Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association