What happens when human beings are faced with the ineffable, the incredible, the unimaginable, and the dangerous? American missionaries to Armenia both witnessed and tried unsuccessfully to prevent the genocide of 1915. This talk explores the element of felt compulsion in European-Ottoman relations and American evangelizing zeal that preceded the genocide. It focuses on why American missionaries first came to Armenia and on their subsequent encounter with the progressively dehumanizing elements of genocide that preceded actual killing: systematic attack on the idea of community and the separation of individuals from notions of the normal in human relations to one another, to property, agency and time.
CAROLYN COLLETTE is Professor Emerita of English and Medieval Studies at Mount Holyoke College, a research fellow at the Centre for Medieval Studies at King's Manor at the University ofYork, and was recently a Mellon Emeritus Faculty Fellow. Her most recent book is /Re-Thinking Chaucer's /Legend of Good Women (York Medieval Press, 2014), and she is well known for her numerous scholarly publications, presentations, and awards. Professor Collette has had a longstanding interest in modern Armenian history and has researched and written about Medieval Armenia and the West. Her presentation at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies is in connection with her current research on American women missionaries to Armenia from 1850-1905.