Loyola University Chicago

Medieval Studies



The night was dark and full of terrors-- But it was also entertaining!

On October 4 the Medieval Studies program explored the questions: What did ancient and medieval people do after the sun went down? Did they admire the night sky or fear the darkness?

While Dr Dossey explored changes in the ways Greeks and Romans viewed the night – changes possibly related to increasing urbanization – Dr Gross-Diaz gave examples of how and why those views morphed in the Middle Ages. From werewolves to lunar eclipses, from astrology to travel, the night experience was shared by nearly 100 students in Crown Auditorium which, for this event, was made completely and totally dark! 

The highlight of the evening was Dr Dossey and her student assistants performing an ancient Greek necromantic spell which raised this “corpse” to life and conjured it to foretell the outcome of one student’s exams (hint: never trust a corpse).


Le Jeu d’Adam et Eva

Le Jeu d’Adam et Eva Play

On April 24, MSTU student Nate Ferguson directed fellow students in the 12th century “Play of Adam and Eve”, to explore the way medieval people expressed the relationship between humans and the supernatural.

Satan’s wheedling cannot sway Adam’s faithful “vassalage” to his lord, God;

…but Satan’s reasoning persuades Eve that she and Adam will benefit from eating from the Tree of Knowledge.

The fateful decision is made…

Comic ‘demons’ punctuate the drama with persuasive gestures

God confronts the guilty humans in a scene exactly reminiscent of the great 11th century doors of Hildesheim Cathedral!

Going medieval on exam stress

Going medieval on exam stress

The participants in HIST 329 Medieval England took to the East Quad this morning to work off some exam week stress. We played Kubb, the (quasi)-medieval lawn game (very similar games are recorded, so who’s to say this one wasn’t played?).

Two “ships” – one Anglo-Saxon (part of Alfred’s navy, of course) and one Viking – are locked in bitter struggle to capture hostages and take out the opposing king. According happily with the historical record, the English won two out of three rounds. 

The culturally- and historically-appropriate trash talking was a great way to vent, and we’re quite sure the healthy intake of vitamin D and oxygen will improve everyone’s performance on exams!

Nice day for a sea battle

The Saxons despair…

…but soon rally

Opposing chieftains use traditional Norse negotiations to see who strikes first:  bjarg, blað, knìfr…

Viking chieftain down

Anglo Saxons win again

Victory, and the crown, shall be England’s!

In a dramatic plot twist, the Vikings accord a sea burial to a noble adversary

The English win (naturally!) 

History 329 (most of us) Spring 2016

A “Taste of Medieval England” included mac and cheese, pretzels, and cheesecake – who knew?


A “Taste of Medieval England” included mac and cheese, pretzels, and cheesecake – who knew?

We found out as we researched material culture in Medieval England (HIST 329). Using cookbooks from fourteenth-century England and France, we created a menu such as might have been enjoyed at the abbot’s table of a fairly unreformed Benedictine monastery: no meat, but plenty of cheese and eggs. (No beer or wine, of course, per University regulations… ) Our recipes came from Forme of Cury, the Liber Cure Cocorum, and Le Ménagier de Paris, by way of scholarly editions by R. Morris, Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler , and Eileen Power;  handily made available through websites Godecookery and Medieval Cookery. We decided that during dinner we would “share news” about the goings-on in England and elsewhere during the Anarchy.  We worked on the reasonable assumption that the recipes and ingredients would not have changed a great deal in England in the period after the Norman Conquest but before the sixteenth century.

We began with a potage de Crécy, made from carrots (a specialty of the Norman city of Crécy – right across the Channel and part of “greater England” at this time).  This soup would later be enjoyed on the anniversary of England’s victory over French forces near that town in 1346, during the Hundred Years War. Since we were in England, we added parsnips to the traditional recipe. The soup course was followed by makerouns (a dish of cheddar cheese and egg noodles that tasted curiously familiar), frutours (apple sliced fried in beer batter), mushroom pasty (or “funges in a coffyn”, made with “local” English cheddar instead of a French cheese), and a refreshing salat full of herbs and tasty greens (lacking the primrose and violet petals which are, alas, in short supply in Chicago in early March). Medieval pretzels, freshly baked from scratch, helped wipe up the savory juices on our plates, and we finished on a sweet note with sambocade, a cheesecake made with aromatic elderflowers.  Great goblets of small mead (sans alcohol) washed it all down as we traded news about Matilda and Stephen and their desperate contest, as well as echoes of happenings as far afield as Compostela and Rome. 

We could not agree as to whether Matilda or Stephen would be the better ruler of England and Normandy; but we did agree that a 300-level “Medieval Food” course would be a great asset to Medieval Studies and the History Department!

Student participants: Vivianne Arellano, Austin Edington, John Garrity, Leah Henning, Aaron Kinskey, Alexis Kloiber, Katherine Russell, Katherine Zoibro.

Our special thanks to Fr. Daffron and Tivo, who let us use their kitchen in Campion! Click below for more pictures from the event!



--T. Gross-Diaz

Associate Professor, History 

Director, Medieval Studies

35th Annual Meeting of the Illinois Medieval Association

Loyola University Chicago, Watertower Campus, 16-17 Februrary, 2018

Medievalists have long engaged in the study of the body, producing some of the most influential contributions to the “bodily turn” of the 1980s and 1990s. The multidisciplinary conference “Reframing Medieval Bodies” invites reflection on past scholarship in this area and elaboration of new approaches and methods. We invite papers from the full range of disciplines in medieval studies, exploring bodies in their physiological, symbolic, political, economic, and performative capacities. Papers that revisit "the body" in light of bioarchaeological research and the history of medicine are especially welcome, as are papers that engage recent research on disability, gender, and race. 

We are delighted to announce our keynote speaker: Peggy McCracken, Domna C. Stanton Professor of French, Women’s Studies, and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan. 

We welcome proposals for either individual papers or whole sessions. Proposals for individual papers should be limited to 300 words. Session proposals should include abstracts for the three papers as well as the contact information for all presenters.

Abstracts on any aspect of medieval studies are welcome, but we will give preference to submissions related to the conference theme. Submit proposals to ima2018loyola@gmail.com no later than December 1, 2017. 

Papers presented at “Reframing Medieval Bodies” are eligible for publication in the journal Essays in Medieval Studies. Questions may be directed to tstabler@luc.edu or icornelius@luc.edu.