Just one of the 'goyles
Just one of the 'goyles Credit: Vivian Wan

Walking due east on the 59th street border of the University of Chicago campus, the life of the mind can be found in many forms. Upon passing the Gothic stylings of the Arley D. Cathey Learning Center and hearing the bells of Rockefeller Chapel proclaiming their tonal humanism, you may encounter a battle between two medieval knights. If this all appears anachronistic, then, congratulations, you do not attend the University of Chicago.

These are the antics of the Shire of Gray Gargoyles—the Hyde Park chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which specializes in the history of the Middle Ages. Members participate in a variety of activities, including cooking, dance, and combat—all in tune with medieval etiquette, of course. The club meets in Ida Noyes Hall every Sunday, their Monty-Python-like antics often spilling out onto the fringes of the Midway. This means that the event is situated in the Midlands region—medieval for “midwest”—specifically in the Midlands of Illinois, for those of you whose GPS defaults to Middle Earth.

Many members are U. of C. students and staff, enriching the lively tradition of UChicosplay—which runs the gamut from artfully themed frat parties, where the chances of meeting a genuine dungeon master are high, to undergraduates disguised as philosophy professors.