The History Society’s 2019 Interdepartmental Quiz

Blog written by Glenn Mills

The winning team!

January 30 saw the eagerly awaited return of the History Society’s Interdepartmental Quiz. The evening was a paradoxical mixture of light-hearted fun and ferocious competition as we pitted representatives from the Modern, Mediaeval and Classics departments against one another in a war of the wits for the prestigious IDQ Trophy. This year, Dr Bess Rhodes, Dr Sarah Frank and Dr Emma Hart represented the Modern History department; Dr Robert Cimino, Dr Alex Woolf, and Professor John Hudson defended the currently reigning mediaevalists; Dr Dawn Hollis, Dr Andrea Brock and Dr Jon Coulston formed the Classics team. Alex and Jon are veterans (having routinely competed to defend or retrieve their departments’ glory!) but it was equally pleasing to see so many new faces in the quizzing arena and we hope they will be keen to return next year.

The evening’s events took off with a general knowledge round in which the mediaevalists gained an early lead, correctly identifying cynophobia as the fear of dogs and Quagadougou as the capital of Burkina Fasco. The St Andrews round showed a balanced performance, with Alex Woolf naming St Peter as St Andrew’s brother, Bess Rhodes exhibiting a comprehensive knowledge of Andrew Melville Hall, and Jon Coulston demonstrating an impressive familiarity with the artefacts in the MUSA. The ancient and middle eastern rounds proved surprisingly perplexing for all of the teams. The precise date for the eruption of Vesuvius descended into loose guesswork, while the dissolution of the Knights Templar remains an area in need of some revision.

The three teams stumbled their way through an agonising pop culture round, in which only one of Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriends in her song ‘thank u, next’ was identified by all nine contestants. However, Meghan Markle’s television career and the 2019 Oscars saw much wider success. The medieval round proved equally troublesome, although Alex Woolf and John Hudson’s knowledge of Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark and the Hereford mappamundi earned the mediaeval team a few points on their home turf. The music round witnessed a passable group performance of ABBA’s Super Trouper and Andrea Brock demonstrated the Floss dance with consummate skill. The final two rounds on modern history and science brought the evening to a tidy conclusion.

By the end of the night, the Mediaeval team achieved a decisive victory and the IDQ trophy has thus been returned to St John’s House, where it will stay under the guardianship of the school administrators, Dorothy Christie and Audrey Wishart. The IDQ continues to be a highlight for many students and we are pleased to say that this year saw a record turnout. Many thanks are due to the History Society Committee, who have offered invaluable help with the planning and logistics of the event. In particular Academic Officer Sophie Rees showed her diligent commitment, communicating regularly with staff, organising the venue and compiling questions, and President Harris LaTeef bravely took up the gauntlet of quizmaster. A final word of thanks must be extended to the academics who participated in the quiz, despite the administrative chaos of week one, and to all of the students in attendance. We hope next year’s quiz will be received with equal enthusiasm.

About standrewshistory
With over forty fulltime members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from Scotland to Byzantium and the Americas to South Asia. Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching, allowing for in-depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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