Alicia McKenzie, a medieval historian and instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University, has passed away at the age of 46.
Alicia will be particularly remembered among the Canadian medievalist community, having studied at the University of Toronto, and then having a strong career teaching at both Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College. She taught a number of courses related to medieval history and medievalism and had a special interest in how video games depict the Middle Ages. Alicia even created a Youtube Channel to provide her students with many of her lectures. Her teaching ability was recognized with an award in 2016 for ‘Innovation in Teaching’ by Wilfrid Laurier University.
In a statement, Wilfrid Laurier University commented: “She inspired countless students, many of whom enrolled in her courses specifically because of her reputation as an outstanding instructor. Alicia’s talent and dedication were deeply apparent, as was the care and guidance she provided to students.”
Alicia wrote a number of articles, including “A Patchwork World: Medieval History and World-Building in Dragon Age: Inquisition,” in The Year’s Work In Medievalism 33 (2018) and “Model Rulers and Royal Misers: Public Morality among the Merovingian Aristocracy,” in Poverty and Prosperity in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Brepols, 2012). She was currently working on a book for the University of Toronto Press entitled Recreating Worlds: Representations of Premodern History in Video Games.
You can hear Alicia McKenzie talking about her work in an episode of The Medieval Podcast from 2020.
Many people have already commented online about Alicia’s passing:
I would also like to add in a few personal reflections about Alicia, who I met on several occasions, but have two vivid memories of. I heard her speak at a conference on medievalism in 2018, where she spoke on the topic of ‘Patchwork worlds: history and worldbuilding in neomedievalist digital games.’ I found her to be an excellent speaker who could make it easy to understand a subject that I was not very familiar with.
The other time I met was something of a surprise – I had gone to medieval fair here in Canada, which is a rare place to find a medieval historian. But Alicia was also there, part of an exhibitor table to promote Wilfrid Laurier University’s medieval studies program. Alicia, along with some of her students, were there to talk about what they did and to show the local community how they can pursue an interest in the Middle Ages.
From these meetings I can offer two observations about Alicia – she was a bright scholar who could teach us much, and she loved what she did.
Top Image: Courtesy Wilfrid Laurier University