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Faculty & Staff

Thomas HeffernanThomas Heffernan

Adjunct Professor, Kenneth Curry Professor
1111 McClung Tower
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-0450

Phone: 865-974-6968

See Also: Curriculum Vitae | Website

I have always found the practice of moral and theological principles of greater interest than the construction and debate about the ideas alone. The application of religious practices, if the ideology is significant enough, invariably affects a broad swath of society. The conflict between the charismatic Christians of third century Roman Carthage and the secular authorities was a moment when the Christian ideal of self-sacrifice, in its most extreme form of volitional death, martyrdom, was seen as the most profound expression of Christian belief. My study of the inevitable, but no less tragic, conflict between the radically eschatological church of Carthage and the State provides an opportunity to study human behavior in extremis and has obvious applications for today. I am active in my research and I am presently working on a critical edition of the Latin text of the "Passion of Perpetua and Felicity," an autobiographical account of an imprisonment and subsequent martyrdom in March of 203 in Carthage.

I love teaching and have won a number of awards from the University for my teaching, including the Hodges Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Alumni Distinguished Teacher Award. I like nothing better than enjoying a conversation with a good friend over a cup of strong coffee. I enjoy travel and my wife and daughter and I particularly enjoy the beach. The ocean gives me the greatest solace. Its limitless space and indifference are enormously comforting. Reading a pot boiler of a novel at the beach can't be beat. My work frequently takes me to Europe and I feel very much at home there still having friends from my days as a student in Cambridge.

  • Ph.D., Medieval Literature, Linguistics, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
  • M.A., New York University
  • B.A., Manhattan College

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