Une Danse Macabre: LUU Medieval Society’s First Halloween Hootenanny

On 31 October 2019, the Leeds University Union Medieval Society hosted a delightful evening of spooky speeches, medieval ghost stories, scary snacks and freaky tunes.

Last week LUU's Medieval Society hosted their first ever Halloween party in the School of History, including mini-lectures in keeping with the supernatural theme. Participants, who were encouraged to dress as their research interests, gathered in the School of History to enjoy a series of Halloween-themed talks from members of the IMS, culminating in a costume competition and much frivolity.

The evening’s entertainment began with a talk by Eva Frojmovic who recounted a story about a polite but hungry vampiress, who  couldn't feed on a sleeping woman because a chaperone was present and so died. The party continued with some spine-tingling storytelling from Alaric Hall, who told some captivating tales of supernatural happenings from Yorkshire and the wider world. Next, Geoff Humble brought us supernatural tales from 14th-Century China concerning household staff from the other side. The group was then transported into a nightmare realm of changelings and demons with Rose Sawyer’s presentation on the substitution of human babies for otherworldly creatures, which was followed by a bewitchingly tongue-in-cheek workshop delivered by Rachael Gillibrand on how to become a wicked woman by means of genital theft, witchcraft, and the process of aging. Finally, the evening’s speeches were brought to a close with a dramatic reading by Charles Roe of some French Arthurian Literature regarding the sinister repercussions of stealing candlesticks from dead knights.

The final proceeding of the event was the costume competition. Entries included a visual representation of Ovidian morality, replicas of paintings of Saint Cecilia and Christine de Pizan, Mordred from the Morte d’Arthur, and many more, but ultimately doctoral candidate Florence Scott won the title with their ornately decorated body-sized crown, representing the ghost of a crown that was never created.

Dr Rose Sawyer of Oxford University praised the event and its organisers, declaring:

‘I had a wonderful time, heard some creepy tales, learnt how to be a wicked woman and, as the previous incarnation of the Medieval Society President, was possessed by the warm glow of contentment that the Society was in good hands.’

Current Medieval Society President Samuel Bradley also had only positive things to say, adding:

'The Danse Macabre evening was a great success and it was wonderful to have such a diverse range of talks from IMS-linked speakers, past and present. It was incredible to see such a large group of people in costume, and to hear the stories and ideas behind them. It really displayed the wide breadth of research interests in the IMS.'