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Regular version of the site

Dante Forever

Nigel F. Palmer, Emeritus Professor of Medieval German, St Edmund Hall, Oxford will make a report 'Gospel Meditations in Late Medieval Europe: Three Voices from the Upper and Lower Rhine' at the HSE on September 24, 2013. The leading professor on medieval issues gave a special interview for the HSE news service.

— What’s so attractive for researchers about the Middle Ages, and what inspires young people to concentrate on this period?

— For serious students of medieval literature, which is my subject, the objects you study aren’t just abstract texts, multiplied in hundreds of copies, but individual original objects from anything between five hundred and a thousand years ago. Students find it fascinating when they discover that to understand medieval literature you need to confront - and if they are lucky to handle - the material objects, the actual books that were used for reading all that time ago. Philology becomes material philology.

— Are there many researchers of this period in Russia? Do you co-operate with them as you are engaged in collaborative research with colleagues in Germany, Switzerland and the United States?

— A few years ago my answer would have had to be no. But that has changed in the last few years, principally as a product of the co-operation between the Lomonosov Moscow State University and the Philipps University in Marburg. Professor Ekaterina Esquires and Dr Natalija Ganina and I have collaborated on a set of interlocking publications on the newly discovered Moscow manuscript of the writings of the German mystic Mechthild von Magdeburg. So the answer is yes, because my collaboration with Moscow is now for me just the same as my collaboration with colleagues in Freiburg im Breisgau, Fribourg (CH) and Harvard.

— What can you recommend for reading on medieval literature and art to non-specialist in this area?

— I wouldn’t recommend starting with a book about medieval literature, I would recommend reading just two or three of the wonderful texts, perhaps in translation. A good place to start, if I may give German examples, would be the ‘Nibelungenlied’ (in Russian translation: Pesn’ o Nibelungakh. Leningrad, 1972) or the ‘Tristan’ romance by Gottfried von Strassburg. I haven’t found a straight Russian translation of Gottfried’s text (which is easy to find in English translations), but one could use the old translation of J. Bédier’s retelling, Roman o Tristane i Izol’de. Moscow, 1955, or Legenda o Tristane i Izol’de, edited by A. D. Mikhailov. Moscow, 1976. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was translated by Ivan Kashkin and J. B. Rumor in 1946. But perhaps there are other Russian-language resources that I don’t know. And there is always Dante! For medieval art a good place to start would be the book publications about medieval manuscript illumination by Christopher de Hamel.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE News Service

See also:

‘Mandelstam Street’ Exhibition Opens at the State Literature Museum with Support of HSE University

On March 16, the HSE Madelstam Centre together with Vladimir Dal State Literature Museum opened a museum dedicated to poet Osip Mandelstam and his wife Nadezhda. Below, HSE News Service talks about the exposition ‘Mandelstam Street: Osip and Nadezhda’.

Authorship Proven by Mathematics

Marking Mikhail Sholokhov's 115th anniversary (1905-1984), linguists Boris Orekhov of the HSE and Natalya Velikanova of the Moscow State University confirmed his authorship of the epic novel about the Don Cossacks. The researchers were able to attribute the novel using the text distance measure proposed by John Burrows. Termed Burrows' Delta, it provides a simple and reliable method of attributing or confirming the authorship of various texts. 

HSE University Joins Digital Archive Project of Silver Age Literature

Autograph is a digital archive that grants researchers access to digitized manuscripts of Russian writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Until now, the manuscripts were only available in archives that are closed to researchers and the public and located in different cities and countries around the world.

Library Night at HSE: Shakespeare, Museums and Quests

Almost 40 teams took part in the ‘Through the pages of Basmania’ quest, organized by the Higher School of Economics as part of an annual citywide event, Library Night. Event participants also staged passages from Romeo and Juliet and attended lectures about theatre at HSE library.

International Students Explore Russian Literature in HSE’s Preparatory Year Programme

HSE’s Preparatory Year Programme for international students includes not only intensive Russian language training but also subject specific courses. One such course is ‘Russian Literature’, which introduces international students to classic works by Russian writers such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov. In the course, students read and discuss select texts in the original Russian, which helps them gain a better understanding of the Russian culture and history.

Translation Studies Expert Speaks at School of Philology

On September 26 and 27, the HSE School of Philology hosted Professor Brian Baer of Kent University (Ohio, USA) for a lecture entitled ‘The Translator’s Biography in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia: Art, Politics, Identity’, followed by a workshop on ‘Teaching Translation Studies’. Following his lecture and workshop, Professor Baer spoke with the HSE News Service about his career as a translator, the role of the translator in society and his recommendations for international readers looking for exposure to Russian literature.

Russian Sincerity Today – A Conversation with Professor Ellen Rutten

On May 23, Ellen Rutten, Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at the University of Amsterdam, delivered a lecture at HSE on her new book, ‘Sincerity after Communism’. An expert on Slavonic literature and culture, Professor Rutten is involved in numerous projects, including the Digital Emotions group, Sublime Imperfections, and ‘Russian Literature’, a journal where she serves as editor-in-chief.

From HSE to the Sorbonne and Back

Alexey Lukashin, graduate of the HSE master’s programme ‘Comparative Studies: Russian Literature in Cross-cultural Perspective’, studies how real people often copy literary characters and how they themselves can become unusual characters. He is now writing a thesis on this at the Sorbonne and plans to go for his doctorate at HSE.

HSE Develops Interactive Web Version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace

The HSE School of Linguistics, along with Samsung Electronics and experts from the group Tolstoy Digital, has launched the web version of the project ‘Living Pages,’ which offers users a new visual and linguistic analysis of Leo Tolstoy’s iconic novel War and Peace.

Debating the Next Nobel Laureate

On October 8, 2015, the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced. The favourites among bookmakers are the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich, and Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o. HSE scholars share their opinions on the most likely contenders.