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Account (in Russian) of the Dynamic Middle Ages II at the website of the Higher School of Economics

Full text of Interview (in Russian) of Mikhail Boytsov to the website of the Higher School of Economics

Account (in German) of the Dynamic Middle Ages II at the website of the Heinrich Heine University at Dusseldorf


Tamás Kovács
(University of Szeged):

Dear Professors, Maria and volunteers,

I would like to thank you for this wonderful experience of the training School “Dynamic Middle Ages”. This was my first visit in Moscow and I have to say that it was unforgettable. It was good to see as each country has its own ways of research traditions. This training school gave its participants an opportunity to compare how Bulgarian, English, German, Italian and Russian philologists and historians build their research proposals. I participated in a few international conferences before, but this training school was totally different.

Like Catullus „I loved and hated” at the same time that we were put under extremely hard situations, simply because this training school showed us a mirror in which we see our strengths and weaknesses too. I got an opportunity to see and improve myself during the outstanding presentations, opinions and question-structures. That is why we all know now what need to do to be a valuable member of the international research hubs. Therefore, I strongly believe that all workshops/conferences ought to be like this.

I would like to emphasize the plurality of papers, that truly broadened my peripheral vision. It was good to participate in the sessions, coffee breaks, lunches, where I received valuable comments, opinions, and maybe I could give as well.

Finally, I would like to thank you for the flawless organization and the outstanding assistance.

All the best wishes,
Tamás Kovács

Pietro Delcorno (Radboud University Nijmegen)


Dear Professors, Maria, and volunteers

First of all I would like to warmly thank you for the excellent training School “Dynamic Middle Ages” that you organised in Moscow so wonderfully. I felt really welcome and I enjoyed very much both the intense work at the school and the beauty of the city. I consider this meeting a precious opportunity in my intellectual itinerary and a very promising starting point for further collaborations.

I would like to highlight a few elements that I consider as strengths of this training school. The school gave its participants the possibility to deeply engage with scholars and young researchers from a great variety of fields of expertise and countries - from Russia to Italy, from Bulgaria to England. The interdisciplinary character of the school resulted particularly valuable. I am sure that this experience broadened and refined my view on different methodologies and strategies of research, their advantages as well as their limits. I can say that I left Moscow with a more dynamic vision and a geographically enlarged understanding of the Middle Ages.

I greatly appreciated the intensity of the work done in these days. The interesting lectures, the attentive participation, and the vibrant discussions proved that everybody was exemplarily committed to our work. In particular, I would like to thank the professors as well as the participants who spent time and energy in reading, listening, and discussing our papers. I am confident that each of us greatly learned from these days, for what concerns not only the contents, but also a style to do research as an enterprise that greatly takes advantage from an intense and free exchange within a community of scholars. Finally, the fact that the meeting in Moscow was open-ended makes this school different from other international experiences that I participated in in these years. The perspective to have other meetings in the near future gives momentum to think further about what we discussed in Moscow and to consider it in my everyday work. For this reason, I hanged up the poster of “The Dynamic of Middle Ages II” above my working desk. It not only recalls a nice experience and the people met, but it also symbolises a perspective of research.

Kind regards

Pietro Delcorno

Francesca Potenza (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Rome)

Dear DMA II,


First of all, thank you very much for this wonderful and useful experience! I feel like it really worked, among us participants, professors and participants, coordinators/volunteers and participants/professors. I really appreciated the operative and (of course) dynamic participation of professors during these days. Their interest in our projects was (is) - I would say - very inspiring, and the suggestions or objections they made were always meticulous, focused and constructive.


Anyway, since you've asked us not only to say "thank you", but also to make suggestions or raise objections, here I am. I would like to start saying that the global organization of the School was absolutely great and that everything went "in the best of all possible ways" (as Doctor Pangloss of Voltaire's Candid would say). As for the specific organization of the three sessions, I think that the idea of criticizing one other's work was successful. We are often concentrated only in our project and we could risk to loose something important we cannot see any more. But, as Professor Loud already said our last day at DMA II, maybe it could be useful to organize similar projects (with similar contexts, similar geographical areas, similar periods, etc.) the same day, to help the audience to follow the discussion. Moreover, I think it could be better to underline the stage of participants' projects, which means not necessary the year of the PhD. In fact, it is obvious that students dealing with the same project from MA to PhD are more self-confident of their subject and they already know how their project will raise and improve, while students who have just begun are maybe less prepared to reply to the objections and to "defend" themselves and their projects. 


Apart from these thoughts (not necessary objections or suggestions) I wanted to share with all of you (Professors, organizers and participants), I really think that everything has been successful for everyone. I have never heard anyone complaining about something, and this is not very common!


So, thank you for all again, and I hope we will meet again someday,


all the best wishes,

Francesca Potenza

András Kraft (Budapest)

Dear Professors and Organizers,

allow me to be repetitive and to thank you for an indeed successful workshop. The organization was outstanding and the hospitality shown to us was more than generous. Also, I much appreciated the fact that the aims and intentions of the workshop were clearly defined at the outset. Equally laudable was the repeated call for feedback that went out already at the end of the very first day.

The inquisitory technique of the workshop provided a suitable platform for discussing each one's research project. In order to further develop our presentation skills and to avoid repetitiveness in future sessions it might useful to promote debates among groups or teams. These teams could represent factions that argue e.g., for / against the legitimacy of specific "metanarratives" or for / against particular methodological presumptions. As we all encounter methodological challenges in our research, it might be worthwhile to focus on improving our argumentative skills for scrutinizing and testing our methodologies, and that not only individually but in groups. After all, many methodological concerns are shared issues. A moderated discussion among faction-like teams could address, for instance, the use of topoiin medieval sources (with one camp substantiating the view that topoiessentially simplify complex historical events - be that out of ignorance or for apologetic reasons - while other camps would depart from or even refute this view). Such groups can be set up ad hocand can differ from session to session. The generic arguments gained from such discussions could turn out to be valuable not only for the research of the disputants but also for a broader audience that is interested in the methodological apparatus of historical studies.

All in all, I am convinced that the DMA II has well achieved its aims for the first round; and I believe - that I speak on behalf of all of us when saying - that we are curious to learn how this workshop will evolve in the years to come. Hopefully, the dunamis, or capacity, of the DMA II will allow to accommodate also those alumni who will not be able to physically attend further sessions.

With best wishes,
András Kraft

Antoan Tonev (Sofia University)

Dear Professors, Maria and volunteers,

First of all I would like to thank you for the organization of this great training school and also for the great experience in Moscow. I am really impressed by the perfect organization in every single aspect: from the time schedule to the academic excursion.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in this international training school because I think that each of us has different background and it was very interesting for me to see different approaches toward similar problems and different methodologies used by different Professors and PhD students. This is very important because it is one of the easiest ways to improve our work and I am sure that we can develop and improve further our research techniques. I was really pleased to see so many discussions about each PhD project. I am extremely grateful for all questions, comments and suggestions on my PhD project because they were very helpful.

Also I believe that “The Dynamic Middle Ages II” training school created a great network between us which can be useful for everyone. It seems to me that this kind of networks is increasingly important for the development of historical researches. I really hope that this network will become stronger and stronger in the years.

I also have some suggestions for the future sessions. Firstly I think that it will be great to create teams among the participants with similar interests. Every team can work on some clearly defined topic before the training school and it would be great to prepare an article on this topic. Then at the school every team can present its own research and can defend it. Secondly I think that it will be useful to make discussions on selected methodological problems with particular tasks for every participant.

Finally I would like to thank you once again! I am grateful to everyone who participated in the “The Dynamic Middle Ages II” training school because each of you (Professors, Participants, Organizers and Volunteers) left your mark on me and help me to improve myself in some way.

My best regards,

Antoan Tonev

Stephan Köhler (University of Mannheim)

Dear Organizers, Professors and Participants,

with this comment I would like to share some of my impressions and thoughts about the training school. First of all I want to thank the organizers – especially Maria – for their good work and for giving me a chance to present my paper. It was a really great experience and I really enjoyed the training school. I felt all six days were well organized and you had attracted a good range of researchers from different areas of research. This exchange over historical research topics showed the wide range of ongoing medieval studies.

It was a very interesting thing to meet and discuss with scholars, both professors and PhD-students, from other countries. I really enjoyed the sessions for discussing the papers with the other participants. Especially the comments and questions aimed at my own topic were very useful and I could take a lot of input and suggestions with me.

Now some observations about the training school format. Taken as a whole I really liked the overall schedule around the discussion sessions. I thought the starting lectures of the professors to be really interesting but non-cohesive. Also there was not very much room for questions and discussions. Maybe a solution would be to shorten the lectures in the morning or to let two professors present different approaches or papers about one single topic. Then a discussion with the PhD-students could follow. The other thing I would like to point out concerns the paper. It would help if you could narrow the demands for the paper, for example telling in advance that the papers are not going to be presented. This would help both the commentator as well as the readers of the paper.

On the whole the DMA II was a great experience. I think the training school had a great start on which upcoming conferences in the next years can build upon. I am extremely grateful for this week of intensive work and cooperation. Many thanks for inviting me to be part of what was a very thought provoking week.

All the best wishes,

Stephan Köhler


Tatiana Shingurova (Moscow State University)

Dear Professors, Maria and volunteers,

I would like to thank you for this excellent chance to participate in this great meeting and training school, as well as for brilliant organization, which was on the highest level. 

For me this training school was very useful. When I prepared my presentation, I found out weak points of my thesis. Moreover, I understood how the structure of my research work should looks like, because presentations by my colleague showed me, what are the most perspective and important aspects in medieval studies we have now. So, now I know on what things I should pay attention in the first place. 

I was really impressed by lively and interesting discussion which accompanied every presentation. I didn’t expect that my paper about Irish medieval kings and power representation would cause so many questions and notes, because it is usually on “periphery”of Medieval studies and not so well-known as, for example the history of Byzantine Empire or of Holy Roman Empire. But there were notes and they were very useful, because my colleague, who study other subjects, pointed me on absolutely new sources, not Irish ones but of the same period, as well as ideas, which could broad my research and are very helpful. Besides, they pointed me on my mistakes, which I didn’t notice before. So, I want to thank everyone, who made my presentation so interesting and helpful. It was a good chance to present research work before defence of a thesis.
Apart from presentations, discussions, interesting lectures by professors, unofficial part of this training school was also memorized. I met many interesting people, with whom I hope to stay in touch even after DMA II.

And in the end, I have just one note for future "DMA" Schools. When we applied for participation, we hadn’t any requests for a format of our summaries. That’s why all of them were in free format: ones were lengthy, other too short, some of them have historiography and sources included, but no research question, others has it, but without a word about sources and so on. That’s why sometimes it was difficult to understand one’s research subject, especially when you should discuss many different themes during the training day. Maybe, the single format of summaries should be established? This could solve the problem of different interests, because when PhD-students would understand better the topic of the conversation, they will discuss it more lively. Because, at the end, our interests are not so different, we all study Middle Ages.

Best wishes,

Tatiana Shingurova.

Denis Sukhino-Khomenko (State Academic University of Humanities, Moscow)

Dear colleagues, organisers, professors and volunteers,


The October session was my first experience of partaking in an international conference (that is the fist presentation of my thesis to colleagues from abroad), as well as the first touch with the HSE. It is my pleasure to say that the event was a) a highly productive professional meeting, b) extremely well managed by Maria and her team. 


The very idea of 'Dynamic Middle Ages' is dear to my heart. Although many scholars in my field admit the changes in the development of Anglo-Saxon society, which is in the focus of my research, very few actually take it into account. A chance to present a thesis that would underline this dynamics was highly significant for me, because this idea is one of the cornerstones for my dissertation. That is why participating in DMA II was an important stage in my postgraduate programme. Also, I made some very good professional acquaintances with colleagues during the conference, that otherwise would have taken much longer to establish. I received a possitive, well-balanced and thoroughly delivered review by Ms Schulz (Humboldt University, Berlin), for which I'm very thankful. I would like to further thank everyone with whom I discussed my project during the session and in private conversations. While searching bibliography in London libraries in December 2014, I always kept in mind those pieces of advice I received in October. And a special thanks goes to Professor Loud for his recommendations for further work, attention to my thesis and the article that Professor kindly sent me by post.


Moreover, as I teach English to postgraduate students at State Academic University for Humanities (Moscow), partaking in DMA II was of additional importance: a series of classes I give is dedicated to international conferences, so I now have extra number of instances and expamles to refer to.


If you ask me, I think there can be only one major improvement. I guess everyone can benefit from thematical groupping of the projects. I found it a little difficult to 'leap' from one region and epoch to another a few times in course of one day. On the other hand, such groupping could simultaneously lead to 'fractioning' of the participants during the discussion. In any case, this is only a proposal, organisers and moderators can see it in a different way.


To conclude, I'm very happy to be a member of the DMA community and very glad to further contribute to the work of the School. Again, I would like to thank Maria and her team from HSE for all their effort, the organisation was of the highest standard.


I look forward to seeing everyone in England in 2015.


All the best wishes,


Denis Khomenko.



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