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2020 Dumbarton Oaks/HMML Syriac and Armenian Summer School

July 13–August 7, 2020 | Intensive four-week courses in Syriac and Classical Armenian for doctoral candidates or recent PhD recipients who can demonstrate the need for either language in their research. Approximately ten places will be available, with priority going to students without ready access to similar courses at local or regional institutions. Apply by February 15, 2020.

Building on four summers of success, Dumbarton Oaks in collaboration with the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) announces two intensive four-week language courses: Intermediate Syriac and Introduction to Classical Armenian

The program, sponsored and funded by Dumbarton Oaks, will be hosted at HMML, located on the campus of Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota. The summer school will run from July 13 to August 7, 2020 (arrival on July 12, departure August 8). The audience is doctoral students or recent PhDs who can demonstrate a need for Syriac or Armenian in their research.

Approximately ten places will be available for each course. Costs for tuition, housing, and meals will be covered by Dumbarton Oaks. The selected participants will be responsible for their own travel costs to and from Saint John’s University. The nearest airport is Minneapolis-St Paul (MSP).

The program welcomes international applicants but does not sponsor J visas.

Course Offerings

The Summer School will consist of morning and afternoon sessions Monday-Friday, complemented by guest lectures and other learning opportunities, as well as social events and enjoyment of the beautiful 2700-acre campus with woods, lakes, and notable architecture.

Applicants for Intermediate Syriac must have completed an introductory course in the language or its equivalent. Classes will be devoted to reading Syriac texts, and grammar will be taught form the readings.

For those applying for Introductory Classical Armenian, no prior knowledge is expected but some preparation as directed by the instructors will be required before arrival. Those with significant prior study of Aremenian (e.g., a semester-long class) will not be considered. Following this intensive course, students will be able to continue reading on their own or to enter reading courses at other institutions.

The courses will also include an introduction to paleography and to the study and use of manuscripts, especially those now available in the vHMML Reading Room from HMML’s vast collection of digitized manuscripts.


Syriac: Dr. Salam Rassi, Oxford University; Dr. Alberto Rigolio, Durham University.

Classical Armenian: Dr. Jesse Siragan Arlen, University of California, Los Angeles; Prof. Emeritus Abraham Terian, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, Armonk, New York

HMML Staff, and guest lecturers

Accommodation and Costs

Students will be housed in apartments on the Saint John’s University campus. Each participant will have a private bedroom and bathroom, with shared kitchen and laundry facilities. A meal contract at the student Refectory will be provided. All expenses will be covered by Dumbarton Oaks, apart from travel to and from Saint John’s University. See more about visiting HMML.

Requirements for Admission

Applicants must be either enrolled doctoral students in good standing with a demonstrated need to learn Syriac or to learn Armenian for their research, or recent PhDs, including early-career faculty members, who can demonstrate the value of the languague for their teaching and research. Priority will be given to those who lack opportunities to continue Syriac or to learn Armenian at their own institutions. 

Application Procedure

Applications are due February 15, 2020. The application should include:

  • A letter of no more than two single-spaced pages describing the applicant’s academic background (including language skills) and an explanation for why continuing Syriac or learning Classical Armenian is important for future research and teaching.
  • A curriculum vitae.
  • A transcript of graduate school coursework for those who are currently doing graduate study. This is not required for those who have completed their PhD.
  • Two letters of recommendation, to be sent separately.

The application letter and recommendations should be addressed to Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, Executive Director of HMML. Letters and other materials should be sent as email attachments to with “Syriac [Armenian] Summer School” in the subject line.

Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of previous academic achievement, demonstrated need for intensive study of Syriac, and research promise. Awards will be announced in late February 2020, and must be accepted by March 15, 2020.