The Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State is fortunate to have visiting scholars to teach in their area of expertise. This year’s Kazan Visiting Professor, Dr. Myrna Douzjian, is teaching a new course, Armenian Studies 120T- “The Armenian Genocide in Film.”
Dr. Douzjian has been teaching for twenty years and greatly enjoys being a visiting professor. She has taught previously at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has traveled back and forth from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Dr. Douzjian travels between Los Angeles and Fresno for her weekly Wednesday class.
Dr. Douzjian’s course focuses on the various modes through which the Armenian Genocide is represented in film. The class consists of assigned readings, discussions, and screenings of films and documentaries. The environment created by Dr. Douzjian allows students to learn to look at films through different perspectives and to be more analytical. This is the first time that Douzjian has had the opportunity to design and teach her own Armenian Studies course.
Dr. Douzjian’s interest in film began in 2009 when she became a contributor the Critics’ Forum, a column that focuses on art and culture in the Diaspora. “I attended the AARPA Film Festival in Los Angeles for the first time. To my surprise, despite the quality and variety of the films being screened, I found virtually no reviews of them in the press. Critics’ Forum had a section on film and music, so I decided that one of my annual articles should cover some of the films at AARPA. Since then, I have pursued research and writing on film, although my formal training is in literature and the dramatic arts.” Her experience in reviewing films has allowed for students to appreciate the contribution she makes to the course and the stimulating activities and discussions she initiates.
All of the students are very involved in the class and are interested in the documentaries shown. Dr. Douzjian has put careful thought in choosing which films to screen each week.
“I made the specific selections by aiming to strike a balance between some of the most well-known films that deal with the Armenian Genocide, like Egoyan’s Ararat, and others that have had a comparatively narrow reach, like Memories Without Borders. In this way, students will have an opportunity to rethink films that they have already seen and, at the same time, gain exposure to new films,” stated Dr. Douzjian.
In this novel course students are exposed to films that encourage them to think, question, and explore different interpretations.