While many know the beloved Frat Quad, few know its ancient history. The sacred quadrangle may look one way today, but the assignments of houses are not set in stone. The fraternities and special interest groups that occupy the houses across from Todd Union are subject to change over the years. While many interesting people may have occupied the FQ at one point in time, perhaps the most interesting was the Medieval Society. Did thou knowest that this society lived in harmony here on the River Campus, filling the Drama House with their feasts of merriment and torturing their outcasts with the rack and the wheel well through the 1970s?

Well, not exactly, but the house was occupied by 17 students and a graduate resident adviser. The house had two sponsors. One budget was financed by the Students’ Association and another by the College of Arts and Sciences. Though I can only imagine that finishing up one’s Bio 110 homework was a little more burdensome than usual given the constant jibes of the court jester buzzing in your ear, perhaps there was a certain comfort to settling down to a night of warmed ale and gnawing on a piece of mutton whilst pouring over tales of Robin Hood by candlelight. Certainly it makes me feel that a night spent staring at the blare of the trite TV is somewhat less than culturally enriching. An article of yesteryear from the April 6, 1979 edition of ye Campus Times documents an epic day in Medieval House history: the coronation of a new director. Associate Professor of English James Carley was named director of the Medieval House.

The Medieval House was a point of interest for both the English and religion and classics departments, which ran programs and activities in the house throughout the year. The students who lived in the house, under Carley’s plan, studied classical works and other interdisciplinary cohorts of the humanities and social sciences French, anthropology, film studies, etc. Carley said in the article that he intended to begin the year looking at mythology. ‘This will allow the events to include elements such as psychology and sociology which have only recently been developed,” Carley said. A world in which psychology was only recently developed? Medieval indeed! Despite that, the house was some bustling ‘Mecca” for the grand studies of old, filled with Canterbury-like festivals that surely took place on a nightly basis akin to disco parties thrown by the neighboring frat houses, this tale has a sad end. The ancient civilization was lost when interest in the house waned, and so the UR Medieval House remains but a legend.

Schneier is a member of the class of 2011.

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