October 13, 1999 Geneva, NY – Peter Balakian, an expert on the Armenian Genocide of 1915, is the second lecturer in the “Age of Genocide” series offered by Hobart and William Smith Colleges as part of their yearlong symposium on the genocides of the past century. Balakian is an award-winning author and poet who received acclaim for Black Dog of Fate: An American Son Uncovers His Armenian Past (1997), a memoir of his family's experience as victims of the Armenian genocide. Balakian's lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 28, in the Geneva Room located on the Colleges' campus. The lecture is free and the community is invited.
Balakian's family survived the Armenian genocide of 1915, in which the Turkish government exterminated more than one million Armenians. In addition to extensive writing on the genocide, Balakian is the initiator of the national movement, defined by the petition “Taking a Stand Against the Turkish Government's Denial of the Armenian Genocide and Scholarly Corruption in the Academy.” He still campaigns to draw attention to continuing Turkish efforts to deny the Armenian genocide. Balakian holds a Ph.D. in American civilization from Brown University; he is a professor of English at Colgate University.
Black Dog of Fate was selected as one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal. It was also named a Notable Book of 1997 by the New York Times. “Balakian wants both closure for the victims and the possibility of forgiveness for the perpetrators. But some crimes are beyond redemption and cannot – should not – be either forgotten or forgiven,” said the New York Times Book Review.
Balakian's lecture is part of the series which will include other guest lectures, in addition to art and the performing art, films, and readings. Michael Dobkowski, professor of religious studies at HWS and an expert in the Holocaust, has organized the series. He said the past century's genocides include not only the Armenian genocide but the two World Wars, the Stalinist gulag, the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the killing fields in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo. “All combine to haunt the imagination,” Dobkowski said.
“By sponsoring this genocide series, the Hobart and William Smith community hopes to improve understanding of all life-annihilation processes inherent in our modern world and to help participants learn more about the circumstances under which life-destruction processes tend to focus on specific groups in events known as genocide,” Dobkowski said.
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