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Tuomas Heikkilä

Tuomas Mikael Heikkilä
Born January 26, 1972, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1996, Licentiate 1997, and PhD 2002 (general history), University of Helsinki
European Diploma in Medieval Studies 1997 (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana)

Docent in general history 2003–, University of Helsinki
Docent in general history and church history 2006–, University of Helsinki
Docent in Finnish history 2013–, University of Turku
Director, Finnish Institute in Rome (Villa Lante), Rome
University lecturer of general history and church history 2003, 2005–07, 2010–13, University of Helsinki
Principle investigator of the Studia Stemmatologica­ research network 2009–12
Principle investigator of the Kirjallinen kulttuuri keskiajan Suomessa (‘Literary culture in medieval Finland’) research project 2006–11
Visiting Research Fellow, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala 2010
Professor of general history 2004 and 2008–09, University of Helsinki
Commissioner 2001–07, Institutum Romanum Finlandiae Foundation
Research fellow 2007, Academy of Finland
Senior research associate in European history 2004 and research associate 1999–2003, University of Helsinki
Researcher 1998–2001, Diplomatarium Fennicum, National Archives of Finland
Researcher of general history, 1997–98, University of Helsinki

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Research themes: monasteries in the High Middle Ages, the cult of saints in the medieval period, literary culture in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, computer-assisted stemmatology, digital humanities, the period from late Antiquity until the Renaissance.

Awards and special achievements:
Luminous Middle Ages Prize 2012, awarded by the Society for Medieval Studies in Finland
Head Marshal of the conferment ceremony of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, 2010
Lauri Jäntti Foundation honorary award 2010
Winner of the Vuoden kristillinen kirja (‘Christian book of the year’) prize (together with Liisa Suvikumpu) 2009
Invited to reside in the University of Helsinki’s apartment Tiedemies-kunniakoti (‘Honorary scholarly home’) 2006
Finnish Science Book of the Year prize 2005
The Yrjö Koskinen medal 2006
Vuoden historiateos (annual prize for the best work of history) 2005
Finnish Academy of Science and Letters scholarship for an outstanding doctoral dissertation 2003
Doctor Primus 2003
Snellman Foundation prize for an outstanding master’s thesis 1997

Written by Tuomas Heikkilä (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

The conferment ceremony – Finland’s best party

The University of Helsinki Faculty of Philosophy Conferment Ceremony is the greatest party in Finland, alongside which invitations to the Presidential Palace and other such lesser get-togethers pale into insignificance. It is also the most traditional national celebration, as the first was arranged in 1643. I have had the pleasure of participating in an official capacity in two conferment ceremonies.

The act of conferment in the Great Hall of the University of Helsinki May 28, 2010. Photo Jakke Nikkarinen.

Soon after completion of my doctorate in 2002, I was invited as Doctor primus to the 2003 conferment ceremony. At the ceremony the Doctor primus is primus inter pares, representing all the doctors of philosophy: the answer he presents to the academic question posed during the act of conferment decides whether the PhDs can graduate. Aware of this crushing responsibility, Doctor Ultimus Timo Sajavaara and I stood in the Great Hall in front of the prospective graduates like statues. We had decided we would make no compromises to our motionlessness, which was incredibly stupid: the result was that the hall began to slowly rotate in a pink haze. My answer was nevertheless accepted and in the end everything went swimmingly. I was invited to the 2010 conferment ceremony as Head Marshal, whose task as leader of a host of 30 marshals is to take care of the practical realisation of a celebration lasting several days: in an academic, sweet and dignified fashion and without any great catastrophe. Transforming tradition and carefully drawn plans into a splendid party and an unforgettable experience was amazing. Working together and celebrating achievements bound together the flock of young marshals, the hopeful doctoral candidates the world-weary ceremonial garland weavers and doctors being reconferred. And once things really got going, there was not a dry eye or throat in the house.

Conferring an honorary academic award on Tarja Halonen June 10, 2010. On the left of the picture Tuomas Heikkilä, Head Marshal at the 2010 conferment ceremony.


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