Inside Castle Club


Michael Melchor, Staff Writer

According to the organization page on the IU Southeast Grenadier Central website, “The purpose of Castle Club is to discover and learn about medieval and renaissance literature, legend, and lore, Arthurian Legend, as well as that which has derived from it, including Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia through scholarly and leisurely meetings and events.”

Castle Club president Garrett Gilles, secondary education sophomore, hopes to clear up some misconceptions about the club.

“The name can be kind of misleading,” Gilles said. “When someone thinks ‘Castle Club,’ I think they automatically go to the architecture. We primarily focus on fantasy and mythology.”

Castle Club vice-president Jeffrey Baugh, English literature sophomore, also said, “The full name of the club in our charter is The Medieval Literature and Themes in Modern Culture Club. It is kind of a misnomer.”

The IUS Castle Club, originally formed during the 2014 spring semester, is going to be entering its fourth year. During that time, the club has evolved to encompass more than medieval themes, though those roots are still present.

Gilles said that the club was originally set to become the Harry Potter Club, but the club’s faculty adviser at the time suggested that they may want to include more facets of pop culture than the Harry Potter series.

“I think that was the second draft that our former faculty adviser had and then they shortened it to Castle Club,” Gilles said. “The problem is there’s really no recognition when you say ‘Castle Club’ that it really is a broad name.”

Gilles has worked his way into his current office since becoming a member in late 2015.

“I got involved the winter of my freshman year and that following spring I was elected secretary,” he said. “From there, I studied under our former president, Amanda Miles, to become president and last spring I was elected president.”

Meet every first and third Wednesday of the month in University Center, Room 121 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to discuss themes in medieval literature and how they’re used today, although the discussions grow to encompass all of pop culture. Meetings have included discussion about comic books, video games such as “The Legend of Zelda” series, and books including the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and “The Chronicles of Narnia” series.

Gilles pointed examples of this, such as from this past November when the movie “Doctor Strange” premiered. The week of the movie’s release, the club meeting featured a discussion of the history of the Marvel Comics character.

Gilles also said their club meetings typically discuss literary tropes and comparisons to well-known characters in past works being present in many facets of modern pop culture.

“So you think of literary tropes like, in the original Arthurian legend there was the Black Knight, who was much more powerful than regular knights,” he said. “And then you have, in pop culture today, Darth Vader who is held in such high regard today. For the meeting on Feb. 15, we’re talking about different figures in literature and pop culture and why they should be compared and whether those comparisons are absolutely ridiculous.”

Aside from discussing pop culture during their meetings, the Castle Club also hosts and co-sponsors several events. Most recently, they co-sponsored the “Harry Potter” book night at the IUS Bookstore on Feb. 2.

The club hosts several other events.  “We host trivia nights and we usually co-sponsor events held by Asian Pop Culture Club and Gamer Society,” Gilles said. ”On April 6, we’ll be throwing our second annual Spring Ball. It’s a formal dance, a masquerade/cosplay ball. It’s held either a week or two weeks before finals. It givers students a chance to have one last hurrah before we surrender ourselves to the books.”

The Bookshelf in the IU Southeast Castle Club office shows the wide range of topics covered by the club.

Gilles said that, with an anticipated attendance of about 150 people, he has invited six clubs to co-sponsor the event and is laying out all the plans for the event early in an effort help the event go smoothly.

The Castle Club currently has 22 active members that earn volunteer hours, pay dues, and show up at all events. “We’re actually a very small club on campus because no one knows who we are even though we’re out doing things pretty regularly,” Gilles said.

According to Gilles, that number has potential to grow.

“Right now, absolutely anyone can come to our meetings and watch, observe, see if the club is right for you. The middle of March is when we have our club dues, which are $15 per semester, then we’ll start having members-only meetings. We’ll still have one meeting per month that anyone can come to, but we’ll have the members-only meetings then.”

The officers of the Castle Club perceive it as having a reputation of discussions of drier themes and of being nearly invisible. Gilles aims to change that.

Gilles said. “Mostly, if you like comic books, if you like video games, anything of that sort, then you have people here who not only have seen the same things you have and enjoy them, but that you can talk with them about.”