Assistant Professor of Armenian Language & Literature
Michael Pifer is a specialist in Armenian cultural production with an emphasis on the development of vernacular Armenian literature during the medieval period. He received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan in 2014, which awarded him the ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award and three Hopwood Awards for creative non-fiction.
In particular, his work focuses on how Armenian literature developed alongside neighboring literary traditions within shared spaces. His interests turn around questions of multilingualism, mixed-script writing, and the ways in which premodern poets attempted to accommodate certain forms of cultural difference within their compositions. By decentering monolingual approaches to literary history, his research aims to contribute to knowledge about cross-cultural dialogism across the literary landscapes of premodern Armenia and its adjacent regions. He is the author of Kindred Voices: A Literary History of Medieval Anatolia (Yale University Press, 2021) and a coeditor of An Armenian Mediterranean: Words and Worlds in Motion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
Currently, he is a team member of Armenia Entangled: Connectivity and Cultural Encounters in Medieval Eurasia 9th - 14th Centuries (ArmEn), funded by a grant from the European Research Council. Led by Zara Pogossian, this project seeks to establish a 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 as a space of cultural entanglements between the ninth to fourteenth centuries.
His teaching interests include Armenian history, language, and literature; cosmopolitanism and exile; borderlands and go-betweens; representation and trauma. He has previously taught Classical Armenian at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library with Sergio La Porta. Most recently, he is developing a course on 20th century Armenian cinema.
- Middle East Studies
- Center for Armenian Studies