|I write with the sad news that Thomas F. Head, Professor of History at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, and our colleague in Medieval Studies, died on November 12 in Rhode Island. He had been ill for some time.
Tom was an expert on the early and high Middle Ages, with a particular interest in hagiography, and his scholarly work in that field over the past twenty-five years has been transformative. His monograph, Hagiography and the Cult of Saints. The Diocese of Orléans, 800-1200 (Cambridge, 1990), was called by one of its reviewers "a model of historical approach and technique," "furnish[ing] a fascinating glimpse into a world both more remote and more like our own than we usually acknowledge" (Church History). The reviewer for Speculum concluded: "Head's book is important. It is clearly written, comprehensively researched and footnoted, carefully produced, and provocative. It will introduce the general English-language readership to contemporary currents in French research on high-medieval saints' cults and will stimulate further thought on the geographical nuances and chronological developments of hagiography and the cult of the saints."
Tom also contributed in significant ways to making hagiographic texts accessible to scholars and students with his two anthologies, Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints' Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (University Park, PA, 1994, coedited with Thomas Noble; and Medieval Hagiography: An Anthology (New York, 1999). About the latter, one reviewer enthused: "This bountiful anthology opens up a world of hagiographic literature little known to those who lack familiarity with the primary languages of the genre" (Speculum). With Richard Landes, Tom also edited The Peace of God: Social Violence and Religious Response in France Around the Year 1000 (Ithaca, NY, 1992). His essays appeared in a wide range of anthologies and journals, including Speculum, Hagiographica, and Essays in Medieval Studies.
Details about Tom's burial (tomorrow in Rhode Island) are available here: http://www.averystortifuneralhome.com/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=2806731&fh_id=13474. A notice of his death has also been posted on the Hunter College website: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/communications/pressroom/news/hunter-mourns-the-loss-of-distinguished-professors-richard-burke-and-tom-head.