Arsen Terterian was one of the first Eastern Armenian scholars of Armenian modern literature and continued his prolific activities in Soviet Armenia, preparing the first generation of literary scholars at Yerevan State University.
Terterian was born in the village of Shushikend, near Shushi, in the region of Artsakh, on November 22, 1881. He received his primary education in the local parish school, and then in the Shushi Seminary (1892-1902). He continued his education at the Gevorgian Seminary (1902-1905) and afterwards he went back to Shushi, where he taught from 1905-1907 at the seminary. He went to St. Petersburg to continue studies at the Institute of Psychology and Neurology, but he had to interrupt his courses due to illness in 1909 and leave for Armenia. Between 1909 and 1920 he taught at the diocesan school of Yerevan.
Terterian was a well-regarded literary critic and scholar, and one of the important representatives of the psychologist school of literature. In the 1910s he published several monographs about Vahan Terian, Mikayel Nalbandian, Hovhannes Tumanian, and other writers.
He was invited to teach at the newly opened Yerevan State University, where he founded the chair of Armenian literature and was appointed head of the chair in 1929. In 1930 he earned the title of professor, and devoted his life to prepare highly qualified cadres, establish the programs of Armenian literary history, and the scientific bases to teach it. He taught courses about both Eastern and Western Armenian literature.
In 1940 Terterian earned the title of Emeritus Worker of Science of Soviet Armenia and in 1943 a doctorate in philology without defending a dissertation. In 1943 he was one of the founding members of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia.
Among his important works were his monographs on Shirvanzade, Khachatur Abovian, Perch Proshian, and other Armenian writers, as well as several Russian writers. He passed away on October 6, 1953, in Yerevan.