Advancing Medieval Studies in Halle
Mikhail Boytsov, Professor in the HSE’s Faculty of History, recently held the Christan Wolff professorship at the Martin Luther University in Halle and Wittenberg. He spoke with the HSE news service about his experience working in Germany and his plans for future research.
— Tell us a little about your cooperation with Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg.
Martin Luther University has a rich history, having been formed as a union of two of Germany’s oldest universities. One was founded in Wittenberg back in 1502 where Martin Luther was professor, and the other was founded in Halle an der Saale in 1694. Today’s Martin Luther University takes great pride in its traditions in the humanities, especially history and archaeology. I first met colleagues from the Institute of History in Halle in 2008, having received an invitation to give a presentation there when I was a visiting professor in Heidelberg. However, I had met with the university’s leading medievalist, Professor Andreas Ranft, several times at various conferences in the past. He was the one whose initiative brought me to Halle for two months to fill the honoured role as holder of the Christian Wolff professorship, which was established relatively recently in 1999 to expand the university’s international connections. On the one hand, it is a great honour for the person who is invited, but on the other hand, it allows Halle professors and students to become better acquainted with research that is currently being conducted outside Germany.
— How is your work going in Germany? What obligations do you have as a guest professor?
The attractiveness of the Christian Wolff professorship, in particular, is that the person holding it does not usually face the burden of a large teaching load. First, it allows you to delve into your own research, using excellent library resources – not only Halle’s resources, but thanks to interlibrary loan, those of other German libraries as well. In addition, informal daily conversations with colleagues — both professors and students — play an important role. I would like to bring such friendly interdisciplinary communication to our country.
I did have an official duty to organize and lead a colloquium in the form of a weekly seminar inviting presenters not from Halle, but from other university centres. Thus, on the one hand, I had to use my connections to attract new people to the University of Halle, but on the other, I had an excellent opportunity to meet good friends and interesting colleagues. They all work on their own subjects, of course, but they belong to a broad research field in which I am very engaged. We decided to define this field using the short formula ‘The Court and Authority,’ which is how our colloquium became known.
— What is relevant today about a seminar on ‘The Court and Authority’?
A seminar on authority is always relevant, of course, because power relations are not only present during our lifetime, but in many ways shape this life. As for the court, this ancient and ever-changing institution, of course, was generally the source of power in societies of the past. In recent decades, historians increasingly focus on informal, unformalized, and non-verbalized aspects of power relations. Thus, the coronation ceremony was no less important for medieval society than, say, the constitution and written laws are for society today.
— What is your circle of colleagues and students like?
We agreed in the beginning that we would not limit our colloquium participants in Halle to academic luminaries, but rather would invite people of all ages and from different levels in academia. I don’t want to compare all of our guests together, but I would note that all the reports not only had highly professional content, but were also very well presented. Listeners – both students and professors — were truly fascinated.
— What are your future research plans?
Currently I am working on several articles devoted to topics that seem very different at first glance but are in fact quite closely related. First, I need to continue a review I started on one of the most famous legal artefacts of the Holy Roman Empire — the so-called Golden Bull of 1356 (also sometimes referred to as Germany’s first constitution). In my view, there are serious reasons to radically change our textbook understanding of this artefact. Whether I am correct in this assumption will have to be determined by discussion. Second, I plan to write about funeral ceremonies and embalming bodies of medieval sovereigns as an important and highly indicative cultural practice. Third, I am finishing several drafts on the political symbolism of the early Middle Ages. Fourth, I need to finalize a collection on symbolic gifts in the Middle Ages and submit it for publication. Fifth, I need to take part in discussions on the essence of the Middle Ages and on estate representation…
Right now, however, the most important thing is for ‘The Dynamic Middle Ages II’ to be as successful as it was the last time; it’s a very unique and bold event. We are very proud that the Higher School of Economics is bringing together the best young medievalists from across Europe to Moscow — a wonderful start to a better future for our discipline.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service
On October 2-4, HSE University hosted the international conference Trends in Logic 19. Current Issues in Philosophical Logic for the first time in Russia. The conference, which attracted a number of prominent Russian and international scholars, was organized jointly by the journal Studia Logica and the HSE International Laboratory for Logic, Linguistics and Formal Philosophy.
On October 2 and 3, HSE University simultaneously celebrated two anniversaries of Russian-Dutch academic cooperation: the 25th anniversary of joint educational programmes between HSE University and Erasmus University Rotterdam, and the 10th anniversary of the Dutch educational center, Nuffic Neso Russia, with which HSE has a long-standing partnership.
The Second Russia-China Education Research Conference – Digital Transformation of Education and Artificial Intelligence – was held last week at HSE University. Researchers from the two countries discussed changes taking place in the national education systems thanks to the digital revolution, as well as what can be borrowed from mutual experiences.
The agreement provides for academic and cultural cooperation between the universities, student exchange, and joint research. HSE University and the University of Bergen have been partners in educational initiatives for eight years. The partnership began when the HSE Faculty of Law signed an agreement with the Norwegian university.
Economists and Researchers Gather at International Conference on Wealth and Income in Eastern Europe and CIS Countries
On September 17-18, HSE University hosted a special conference with the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth (IARIW) on the topic of Experiences and Challenges in Measuring Income and Wealth in Eastern Europe and CIS Countries. This was the first IARIW conference to be held in a CIS country. HSE News Service spoke with American economist Barbara Fraumeni about her work with economic accounting and human capital and her experience attending the conference in Moscow.
Nikolai Pavlenko, a shadow entrepreneur and creator of a successful business in Stalin’s USSR, was executed by firing squad in 1955. Running a successful commercial enterprise right under the dictator’s nose in a strictly planned economy was a striking but not so uncommon case in the Soviet Union at the time, according to HSE professor Oleg Khlevniuk who made a number of unexpected findings having studied newly accessible archival documents. Below, IQ.HSE offers a summary of what his study reveals.
On September 20, HSE University Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Italian Republic Pasquale Terracciano signed a cooperation agreement between the Embassy of Italy and HSE University.
On September 23-24, the CCCP19 Symposium ‘Cognition, Computation, Neuroeconomics and Performance’ will be held at HSE University. The goal of the symposium is to exhibit cutting edge research at the CCDM, a leading cognitive neuroscience research centre in Russia, and LNC2, a leading European research centre in neuroeconomics, cognitive neuroscience and neural theory. Ahead of CCCP19, the HSE News Service spoke with the conference organizer and several invited speakers about the plan for this symposium and the importance of their research in the field.
Mental health disorders are among the leading worldwide causes of disease and long-term disability. This issue has a long and painful history of gradual de-stigmatization of patients, coinciding with humanization of therapeutic approaches. What are the current trends in Russia regarding this issue and in what ways is it similar to and different from Western countries? IQ.HSE provides an overview of this problem based on research carried out by Svetlana Kolpakova.