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Dumbarton Oaks/HMML Syriac Summer School

Hill Museum & Manuscript Library
July 2  –  August 3, 2018

Building on two summers of success, Dumbarton Oaks in collaboration with the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library  (HMML) announces an intensive five-week course introducing Syriac language and paleography in summer of 2018. 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 2 to August 3, 2018 (arrival on July 1, departure August 4). The audience is doctoral students or recent PhDs who can demonstrate a need to learn Syriac for their research.

Approximately ten places will be available in the 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 (nearest airport: Minneapolis-St Paul).

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

Course Offerings

The Summer School will consist of morning and afternoon sessions Monday to Friday, complemented by guest lectures and other learning opportunities, as well as social events and enjoyment of the beautiful 2,700-acre campus with woods, lakes, and notable architecture.

Prior familiarity with basic Syriac grammar is not a prerequisite but some preparation will be required before arrival, as directed by the instructors. The courses will 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 Syriac manuscripts.

Following this intensive course, students will be fully equipped to continue reading on their own or to enter reading courses at other institutions.


  • Alberto Rigolio, Princeton University
  • Jeffrey Wickes, Saint Louis University

Accommodation and Costs

Students will be housed in shared 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.

Requirements for Admission

Applicants must be either enrolled doctoral students in good standing with a demonstrated need to learn Syriac for their research, or recent PhDs, including early-career faculty members, who can demonstrate the value of Syriac for their teaching and research. A basic familiarity with the Syriac writing systems and principal script-forms will be presumed upon arrival. Those accepted into the program will be informed about resources to help them in their preparation.

Application Procedure

Applications are due February 15, 2018. The application letter should include a description of the applicant’s academic background (including language skills) and an explanation for why learning Syriac is important for future research and teaching. Letters should be no more than two single-spaced pages in length. Along with it the applicant should send a curriculum vitae. Graduate-student applicants should also supply a transcript of the graduate school coursework (or undergraduate transcript if the former is not available). Two letters of recommendation should 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 Summer School” in the subject line.

Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of previous academic achievement, demonstrated need for intensive study of Syriac or Armenian, and research promise. Awards will be announced in late February 2018, and must be accepted by March 15, 2018.