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Heather J. Tanner

Heather J. Tanner

Heather J. Tanner




245 Ovalwood Hall
1760 University Dr.
Mansfield, OH

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Areas of Expertise

  • Medieval History
  • Power, Culture, and the State

Ph.D., Medieval History, University of California, Santa Barbara. June 1993. Comprehensive written & oral examinations passed with distinction, May 1991. M.A., History, University of California, Santa Barbara. December 1988. B.A., History and Business Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara. Summa cum laude and with Distinction in History. June 1984.

My primary academic interests center around how noble and royal women and men  exercised power, particularly in the tenth through mid-thirteenth centuries, in northern France, Belgium, and England. This has led me into the study of lordship, feudalism, administration, law and custom, as well as emotions and rituals. I have published fourteen articles and books chapters, and given over thirty conference presentations. My first book, Families, Friends and Allies: Boulogne and Politics in northern France and England c. 879-1160 (E.J. Brill Academic Publishers, 2004) offered a new model of political development for northern France (rather than feudalism). I edited and co-wrote the introduction to Medieval Elite Women and the Exercise of Power: Moving Beyond the Exceptionalist Debate (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019) that stemmed from an international conference I organized. My second book – Lordship and Governance by the Inheriting Countesses of Boulogne, 1160-1260 (Arc Humanities Press, 2023) demonstrates that the extension of feudalism and more centralized government did not curtail elite women's access to and use of power into the mid-thirteenth century. I am currently working on two projects. The first is a project with Elisabeth van Houts (Cambridge University) on "women on the move" for the Global Flanders project. Historians and archeologists who specialize in medieval Flanders are working together a new interpretation of medieval Flanders as an important part of social, economic, political, and cultural networks in Europe. The other project is an exploration of the origins and development of the honour in England.  I have won several prestigious fellowships including a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship and the Coca-Cola Critical Difference grant. I have been honored with two university awards -- the College of Arts and Sciences Mid-Career Faculty Excellence Award (April 2023) and the Susan M. Hartmann Mentoring and Leadership Award (May 2020).
While history is a passion, I also love cooking, music, dancing, reading (especially mysteries and S.F.), and spending time with my family and friends (and my family's kittens Anzu and Pepper). I’m a Navy brat who has moved 41 times; which means I went to 5 elementary schools, 4 junior high schools, and 3 high schools.  I started college at George Mason University, then went to Ventura College for a semester, and finished up at UC Santa Barbara. I worked for 2 years in the insurance industry before returning to graduate school at UC Santa Barbara. Before coming to OSU-Mansfield, I taught at Bates College, U. of Oregon, and Lake Forest College.

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