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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

Tuomas Heikkilä and the task in Rome

From 2013, Tuomas Heikkilä has led Finland’s oldest academic institute abroad at the Villa Lante in Rome, where his research group’s theme is time. On the one hand, it is a question of who governs time and thus people’s use of time, how time is structured, how it is used and how it was seen in medieval and Renaissance Rome. On the other hand, the project is crystallized around calendars, whose content allows access to the worldviews of the communities who maintained them in a way that no other type of source can: calendars are lists of things that a community does not want to forget.

Thus, people’s conceptions of time are a window into the fundamental questions of history. Because, for example, every medieval parish had its own calendar, which deviated slightly from that of its neighbours, and because there were tens of thousands of parishes in Europe, the number of sources is immense. Therefore, a part of the project involves developing computer-aided techniques. The aim is to turn the Villa Lante, an icon of Finnish expertise in the humanities, into an internationally significant centre of new research methods.

There is nevertheless more to everyday life in Rome than hard science: teaching, culture and all kinds of minor events and celebrations. As director of the Finnish Institute in Rome, Dr Heikkilä is responsible for the institute’s extensive teaching activities, which cover a spectrum from undergraduate studies to the post-doctoral stage, the focal disciplines being history, Latin, archaeology and art history. On the one hand, the work in Rome concerns the Finnish and international jet set, public relations and dolce vita – on the other it is common-or-garden hard work wherever it is required.

Photo: Tuomas Heikkilä’s archive
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