Hannah Cox Humanities and Social Science
The Particular Language of Shahan Shahnour
My research will serve as an inquiry into the particular language of the prosaic and poetic works of Armenian-French writer Shahan Shahnour, nom de plume Armen Lubin. Shahnour was a part of the Menk generation (so named after the Armenian word for “We”), a literary group of Armenian migrs living in Paris in the 1920’s, having survived the Armenian Genocide and fled the Ottoman Empire. Within the frame of exile and mourning a lost homeland, Shahnour’s novel in Armenian and Lubin’s later poems in French illuminate a unique language space that can be linked to French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari’s notion of a “littrature mineure.” Shahnour’s particular language parallels a symbolic third territory in which the writer finds himself displaced from both the country of origin and the country of residence. The creation of this conceptual in-between space operates on a technical level through unique syntactic constructions and word choice, but also on a higher level through recurring themes and images in Shahnour’s poetry. I will examine the striking influence of the French language in Shahnour’s 1929 novel (“Retreat Without Song”), as well as the influence of the Armenian language in his later French poetry. I hope that this research will have wider implications in the fields of Armenian diasporic achievement, interpreting migr poetry and bilingual literature as a genre.