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Summer Courses 2020

Due to Covid-19, these programs have been cancelled and are being rescheduled for 2021.

HMML is offering two summer courses in 2020: Dumbarton Oaks/ HMML Syriac and Armenian Summer School and HMML Summer Short Course: Introduction to Arabic Manuscript Studies.


Due to Covid-19, this program has been cancelled and is being rescheduled for 2021.

Dumbarton Oaks/ HMML Syriac and Armenian Summer School
July 13 to August 7, 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 Armenian (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.

Faculty for 2020

  • 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 language 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 [email protected] 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.

About Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an institute in Washington, D.C., administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. It supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships and internships, meetings, and exhibitions. Located in residential Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks welcomes researchers at all career stages who come to study its books, objects, images, and documents. It opens its doors to the public to visit its historic Gardens, designed by Beatrix Farrand; its Museum, with world-class collections of art; and its Music Room, for lectures and concerts. The institute disseminates knowledge through its own publications (such as Dumbarton Oaks Papers and symposium volumes) as well as through the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (published by Harvard University Press). Dumbarton Oaks also makes accessible ever more of its resources freely online. Learn more about Dumbarton Oaks.


Due to Covid-19, this program has been cancelled and will be offered again in 2021.

HMML Summer Short Course: Introduction to Arabic Manuscript Studies
June 1-5, 2020

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library will offer a short course (June 1-5, 2020), an Introduction to Arabic Manuscript Studies, held on the Saint John’s University campus in Collegeville, Minnesota.

The course will:
-Introduce participants to the study and handling of Arabic manuscripts
-Provide basic introduction to paleography, codicology and philological practices
-Engage with printed and digital scholarly tools for the study of Arabic manuscripts (catalogues/ handlists/ inventories, dedicated handbooks, online resources)
-Introduce participants to a range of Arabic manuscripts from West Africa and the Middle East, both Islamic and Christian

The course requires knowledge of Arabic language and is open to graduate students, advanced undergraduates, faculty, and independent scholars with a research interest in Arabic manuscripts. The instructors are Lucia Raggetti (University of Bologna), Ali Diakite (HMML Associate Cataloger for West African Manuscripts), and David Calabro (HMML Curator of Eastern Christian and Islamic Manuscripts).

Course info and instructor bios: View PDF
To register: No longer available.
Registration deadline: April 1 (15 students max; course fills on first-come, first-served basis)

For more info or questions, contact: Tim Ternes, HMML – [email protected]