About the Project:
Medieval Chicago began in 2018 as a special series of blog posts on the Medieval Studies Research Blog hosted by the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. In the series’s early stages, its potential to grow into an independent, public humanities project became apparent right away. This website represents the culmination of those earlier exploratory efforts, a site dedicated to examining the presence of the medieval past in one of America’s largest, most culturally rich cities.
While a fuller explanation of the rationale behind this project can be found in my introductory article, the project’s core goals, broadly conceived, bear repeating:
“The larger goal behind the project is to remind ourselves and our readers about the historical traces and legacies left behind, and, by extension, the legacies that we are always in the process of leaving behind. Medieval Chicago will help us to be more cognizant of the living history that surrounds us every day, even in this relatively young country on which the medieval world has made many indelible marks. I aim to showcase how the past and present have always been not only connected, but also, often, indistinguishable. At the same time, we plan to highlight the modern world’s disconnections with the past, those features that come across as quaint, or dated, as a result of several centuries of cultural evolution. This investigation of our contemporary relationship with the Middle Ages will allow us to simultaneously examine social, political, religious, intellectual, and artistic questions that we have long since left behind, and those we still see as important.”
As far as specific topics that might appear here, anything in or around Chicago that relates, in any way, to the Middle Ages, counts as fair game for coverage on this site. The articles, galleries, and itineraries will feature genuine medieval artifacts (manuscripts, paintings, sculptures, armor, etc.), influences on the city’s physical landscape (Gothic Revival architecture, heraldry, etc.), and cultural traditions or activities rooted in the period (Christmas markets, sword fighting, Medieval Times, etc.).
As a public humanities project, Medieval Chicago aims to provide content for the widest possible audience, consisting of both scholars and public intellectuals alike. Its tone, therefore, will remain primarily academic, but less formally or strictly so than the average scholarly publication because it strives to connect with readers on a more personal level than abstruse jargon often permits. Audience engagement is a primary goal, and visitors to this site can become active participants in their learning by reading, responding, and, hopefully, going out into the real world to experience firsthand the topics under discussion here. There is, thus, an optional interactive element that allows visitors to choose their own Medieval Chicago adventure with a level of participation that suits them. At the very least, I hope that all visitors interested in any part of the project find it, not only a meaningful and enriching resource, but also, ultimately, a fun place to learn.
About the Author & Creator:
Karrie Fuller received her PhD in English from the University of Notre Dame, specializing in medieval literature and manuscripts. She has a decade of teaching experience under her belt, having taught writing and literature courses at St. Mary’s College, Indiana University South Bend, and Notre Dame. She also spent five years working as the Project Manager for the Medieval Studies Research Blog hosted by Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Her research interests include book history, travel literature, and Old and Middle English, to name just a few. Check out her portfolio.
Many thanks to my enlisted peer reviewers, who provide excellent critical feedback on my drafts on a regular basis, especially Dr. Richard Fahey who has consistently volunteered his time. The overall comments and support from readers has also been invaluable. Thanks as well to the Medieval Institute at Notre Dame for inspiring and supporting this project in its early stages on the Medieval Studies Research Blog. Your encouragement has been extremely valuable.
All views and any errors that appear on this site are my own.