When we decided to host the Seventh Century Colloquium, we did not want to have just another of those academic gatherings where several papers are read and a few perfunctory questions and comments are made. We do not want to have something that is simply yet another opportunity to add a line to one’s CV. We do not intend to have a conference just for the sake of holding a conference.
Instead, what we hope to do is to bring the best and brightest younger scholars working on the seventh century together in a collaborative setting that will encourage cross-fertilisation of ideas and potential intellectual breakthroughs. Too many of our sub-disciplines have been walled off from each other so that those of us working on the first century of Islam are barely familiar with those of us studying the foundation of the English Church and neither will know much of recent scholarship on Byzantium. Language and methodological issues of our areas too often means that we miss the forest for the trees.
To break through these divisions, we want to encourage scholars in disparate fields to converse with each other; we will have no parallel sessions as we believe that everything will be useful to all of us.
To build collaboration, we will also be doing something unlike the usual post-graduate conference. Each scholar who submits a proposal to us and is accepted for the conference will be paired with someone else who is working either on similar issues or is using similar techniques in parallel. Those two will be in communication prior to the colloquium. The second scholar will have read a written version of the first’s paper in advance and will have prepared a detailed response prior to the colloquium. After the delivery of the paper, the second will give a response before opening the floor to general discussion. We hope that such methods will not only inspire genuine collaboration between the two involved but will encourage debate and discussion more widely.