Michigan State University

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Associate Professor Tamar Boyadjian’s first book The City Lament: Jerusalem across the Medieval Mediterranean (Cornell UP, 2018) traces the trajectory of the genre of the poetic elegy for lost or fallen cities across the Mediterranean world during the period commonly referred to as the early Crusades (1095–1191), focusing on elegies and other expressions of loss that address the spiritual and strategic objective of those wars: Jerusalem. Through readings of city laments in English, French, Latin, Arabic, and Armenian literary traditions, Boyadjian challenges hegemonic and entrenched approaches to the study of medieval literature and the Crusades. The City Lament exposes significant literary intersections between Latin Christendom, the Islamic caliphates of the Middle East, and the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia, arguing for shared poetic and rhetorical modes. Reframing our understanding of literary sources produced across the medieval Mediterranean from an antagonistic, orientalist model to an analogous one, Boyadjian demonstrates how lamentations about the loss of Jerusalem, whether to Muslim or Christian forces, reveal fascinating parallels and rich, cross-cultural exchanges.

Book Cover of The City Lament by Tamar Boyadjian

Adnan A. Husain (Queen’s University, Kingston) has called The City Lament “an impressive, unique, and original work of scholarship in several ways that make significant, imaginative contributions to fields of and approaches to the study of medieval literary and religious culture.” Suzanne Conklin Akbari (University of Toronto) describes Dr. Boyadjian’s book as “an important and well-conceived study that will make a significant contribution to the field” by “[widening] our frame of reference [and] bringing in the enormously significant Kingdom of Armenia, enhancing our understanding of this crucial period of history.”

We asked Dr. Boyadjian to describe the ways in which her teaching at MSU informed her writing and research process:

“Teaching has always been a wonderful opportunity for me to inform my research. I love to teach and I am so passionate about the craft! I have taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the English department around the themes of the “crusades” and reframing the field into larger non-compartmentalized frameworks such as a the Mediterranean.

As a poet and translator, this department has also allowed me the opportunity to work with creative writers and future translators. I have crafted lines of poetry in class -inspired by my brilliant students. I have also had the opportunity to work through both theoretical and practical approaches to translation through the graduate and undergraduate seminars I have taught in translation theory.

They say the best teachers are the best learners. I am constantly learning from my students as I teach them, and I have found that the most rewarding parts of teaching come from the knowing that both you and your students have come to grow together, to understand yourselves and the world around you in more intricate, sophisticated, and beautifully rewarding ways.”

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