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Thomas J. Heffernan

Thomas J. Heffernan

Professor Emeritus


B.A., Manhattan College
M.A., New York University
Ph.D., Emmanuel College, Cambridge


The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity. New York: Oxford UP, 2012.

  • Scripture and Pluralism. Reading the Bible in the Religiously Plural Worlds of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2005. With Dr. Thomas Burman.
  • Sermons and Homilies, in a Manual of the Writings in Middle English 1050-1500, volume 11. (New Haven: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Science, 2005). With Patrick Horner.
  • The Liturgy of the Medieval Church. Cistercian Studies Series. (Kalamazoo, MI; Western Michigan University Press, 2001). With Dr. Ann Matter of the University of Pennsylvania.  2nd Edition, 2005.
  • Sacred Biography: Saints and Their Biographies in the Middle Ages. Oxford University Press,1988/89. 1st paper bound edition of this work issued October 1992. Still in Print and aChoice Highly Recommended book.
  • Ed., The Medieval European Liturgy (Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University, 2000), with Dr. Ann Matter of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Sacred Biography: Saints and Their Biographies in the Middle Ages (Oxford University Press, 1988)
  • Ed., The Popular Literature of Medieval England (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1985)
  • ed., Studies in the Age of Chaucer, 1981-

Recent Chapters in Books

  • “Dying to Become Gods: Deification in the Passion of Perpetua and Felicity,” forthcoming in Deification in the Latin Patristic Tradition, ed. Jared Ortiz.  Catholic University Press: Washington, DC, 2018.
  • Auditions: Heavenly Voices and Prophecy, in the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, eds., Hans-Josef Klauck, Bernard McGinn, et al. Walter de Gruyter: Berlin. 2007. The Encyclopedia is in progress.
  • “The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood’: How sin and redemption effect heavenly space in an Old English Transfiguration homily,” in Place, Space, and Landscape in Medieval Narrative in “Tennessee Studies in Literature,” ed., Laura Howes, (University of Tennessee: Knoxville, 2007). Pp.
  • Martyrdom, Charisma, and Imitation: Paths to Christian Sanctity, in Church and Society, ed. George P. Liacopulos. Somerset Hall Press: Boston, Ma. 2007. Pp.173-192.
  • Spiritual Biographies, in SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, ed., Philip Sheldrake (London: SCM Press, 2005).
  • Nomen sacrum: God’s name as Shield and Weapon in the Acts of the Christian Martyrs“, inScripture and Pluralism. eds., Thomas J. Heffernan and Thomas Burman. (Brill: Leiden: 2005). Pp. 10-28.
  •  Biography in the Middle Ages in Dictionary of the Middle Ages, ed., William C. Jordan, Supplement I. (New York: Scribners, 2004). Pp.61-4.
  •  The Foundations of Christian Biography in the Middle Ages, Historigraphy in the Middle Ages, ed., Deborah Deliyannis  (Brill: Leiden, 2003).

Essay in Refereed Journals

  • Paradisus in carcere: The Vocabulary of Imprisonment and the Theology of Martyrdom in thePassio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis,” in the Journal of Early Christian Studies,14:2 (2006): 217-233.

Representative articles

  • “Hagiography,” forthcoming in The Routledge Medeival Encylopedia Online, (2018). 

  • Ius Conubii or Concubina: The Marital and Social Class of Pereptua in the Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis,Analecta Bollandiana 136 (2018): 14-42.

  • Petr Kitzler, “From Passio Pertpetuae to Acta Perpetuae: Recontextualizing a Martyr Story in the Literature of the Early Church”. Arbeit zur Kirchengeschichte 127. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015), review in Journal of Early Christian Studies24,3 (Fall 2016): 458-60.

  • “Gender and the Sources of Authority in Augustine's Sermons on Perpetua and Felicity,”in Saintly Bishops and  Bishops’ Saints, eds. John S. Ott and Trpimir Vedriš. Zagreb: Hagiotheca, 2012. Pp. 1-11. 

  • “The Legacy of Misidentification: Why the Martyrs in the Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis were not from Thuburbo Minus?,” Journal  of Early Christian History, 6:3 (2016): 126-151. 

  • “The Liturgy and the Literature of Saints’ Lives,” in The Medieval European Liturgy, eds. Thomas J. Heffernan and Ann Matter (Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University, May 2000), 45 pp.

  • “Hippolyte Delehaye: A Life,” Dictionary of Medieval Scholarship, Helen Damico, ed. (New York: Garland, 1998), 1-23

  • “Philology and Authorship in the Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis,” in Traditio: Studies in Ancient & Medieval History, Thought and Religion (1996), 315-325
  • “History Becomes Heilsgeschichte : The Principle of the Paradigm in the Early-ChristianPassio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis,” in The Ring of Words in Medieval Literature, ed. Ulrich Goebel (Mellen, 1994)
  • “‘God hathe schewed for him many grete miracules’: Political Canonization and the Miracula of Simon de Montfort,” in The Art of Middle English Narrative, ed. Robert E. Edwards (Boydell and Brewer, 1994)
  • “Dangerous Sympathies: Political Commentary in the South English Legendary, ” in The South English Legendary: A Critical Reassessment, ed. Klaus P. Jankofsky (Francke Verlag, 1992), 1-18
  • “Orthodoxies Redux: The Northern Homily Cycle in the Vernon Manuscript and Its Textual Affiliation,” in Studies in the Vernon Manuscript, ed. Derek Pearsall (Boydell and Brewer: Cambridge, 1990), 155-167
  • “Aspects of the Chaucerian Apocrypha: Animadversions on William Thynne’s Edition of thePlowman’s Tale,” in Chaucer Traditions, eds., R. Morse and B. Windeatt (Cambridge University Press, 1990), 75-89
  • “The Authorship of the Northern Homily Cycle: The Liturgical Affiliation of the Sunday Gospel Pericopes as a Test,” in Traditio: Studies in Ancient and Medieval History, Thought, and Religion, 41 (1985), 359-82
  • “The Middle English Sermon, 1150-1450,” in Middle English Prose (Rutgers: Rutgers University Press, 1984), 177-207
  • “The Virgin as an Aid to Salvation in Fifteenth Century English and Latin Verses,” Medium Aevum, (1984), 229-238
  • “Who Wrote Huntington Library Manuscript HM 129? A Study of Manuscript Affiliation,”Manuscripta, XXVII, No. 2 (1983), 101-107
  • “The Rediscovery of the Bute Manuscript of the Northern Homily Cycle,” Scriptorium, 35 (1981), 71-94
  • “On the Importance of Schrifte: A Middle English Poem on Penance,” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 82, No. 4 (1981), 362-67
  • “The Use of the Phrase plenus amoris in Scribal Colophons,” Notes & Queries, 28, No. 6 (1981), 493-94
  • “Unpublished Middle English Verses on the ‘Three Sorrowful Things,'” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 83, No. 1 (1982), 31-33
  • “The Affiliation of Houghton MS 1032 and the Northern Homily Cycle: A Disclaimer,” Notes & Queries, 28, No. 4 (1981), 301-03
  • “Four Middle English Religious Lyrics from the Thirteenth Century,” Mediaeval Studies, 42 (1981), 131-150
  • “Additional Evidence for a More Precise Date of the ‘South English Legendary,'” in Traditio: Studies in Ancient and Medieval History, Thought and Religion, 35 (1979), 372-79
  • “The Middle English Lives of Saints Alexis, Eustace, and Oswald in the Northern Homily Cycle,” Cambridge University Literary and Linguistic Computing Centre, 1977; “The Textual Tradition of the South English Legendary,” review essay in Medium Aevum, 1977
  • “A Middle English Poem on Lovedays,” Chaucer Review, 10 (1976), 172-85
  • “An Analysis of the Narrative Motifs in the Legend of St. Eustace,” Medievalia Et Humanistica;Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Culture, NS 6 (Cambridge University Press, 1975), 68-69
  • “On the Use of Computers in Medicine: Personal Experiences and Critique,” The Jewish Memorial Hospital Bulletin, 16 (1972), 1-27
  • “Computer Management of Clinical Information: Capture and Retrieval of Clinical Orthopedic Data by Means of the Variablefield-length Format,” Bulletin of The New York Academy of Medicine, 48 (1972), 1014-32.

Awards, Honors & Grants

  • Honorary doctorate of humane letters from Manhattan College Litterarum Humanarum Doctoris (honoris causa), 2008
  • Litterarum Humanarum Doctoris (honoris causa), 2008
  • Fellowship National Endowment for the Humanities 2005-06
  • University of Tennessee Creative Achievement Award 2005
  • Elected Councilor Medieval Academy of America 2004-2008
  • Executive Committee Medieval Academy of America
  • Haskins Medal Committee, Medieval Academy of America 2003-2006
  • Kenneth Curry Distinguished Professorship 1999
  • Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award, 1996.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities 1993
  • National Endowment for the Humanities 1991
  • National Humanities Center, Fellow, 1986-87
  • The Van Courtland Elliot Prize for the Most Distinguished Article in Medieval Studies by a Young North American Scholar for 1977
  • Emmanuel College Grant for Scholarly Research, 1973 and 1974

Associations & Organizations

  • Ed., The Medieval European Liturgy, 2nd ed., (Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University, 2005), with Dr. Ann Matter of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Fellowship to the Southeastern Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, summer 1979; American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 1978-80
  • Chairperson of the Medieval Studies Program at the University of Tennessee, 1978
  • American Philological Society, 1977
  • Editor, Tennessee Studies in Literature, 1976-
  • Medieval Academy of America Fellowship in Medieval Latin Paleography at Harvard University, 1975
Thomas J. Heffernan

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