OCAD University
Heather Coffey
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

Medieval Mediterranean Art and Architecture, Islamic Art and Architecture, Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture


Dr. Coffey's research encompasses themes related to Christian and Islamic cross- and inter-cultural relations in Medieval Mediterranean and Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture. She has published articles concerning the relation between the spread of mi–raj texts in translation and the efflorescence of illustrated manuscripts of Beatus of Li–bana's Commentary on the Apocalypse in Spain from c. 940-1250; the devotional motivations of the miniaturization of Qur–anic and other religious texts within Islam; and the somatomorphic representation of the Prophet Muhammad in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century illustrations of Dante Alighieri's Divina Commedia. She was the first doctoral candidate at Indiana University to be awarded a multi-year fellowship at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, affiliated with the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, in Florence, Italy. Her research has also been funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada / Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada (SSHRC / CRSH); the Royal Historical Society of Great Britain, and the Qatar Foundation.


Doctorate, History of Art. Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 2012.

Master of Arts, History of Art, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, 2004.

Bachelor of Arts, Major in the History of Art, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, 2000.

Professional Experience

Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Art, Architecture and Design, cross-appointed as a Visiting Scholar, Center for Global Islamic Studies, Lehigh University, 2012-2013.

Awards \ Grants

Faculty of Arts and Science Teaching Award, OCAD University, 2020-2021.

Price Award for Excellence in Teaching Nominee (one of four short-listed candidates), OCAD University, 2020-2021.

Dean’s Publication Grant, Faculty of Arts and Science, OCAD University, inaugural competition, 2021.

Co-Applicant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada / Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada (SSHRC / CRSH) Connections Grant, awarded to the international and interdisciplinary conference directed by Dr. Nicholas Terpstra entitled Global Reformations: Transforming Early Modern Religions, Societies, and Cultures, sponsored by The Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies at Victoria College and the University of Toronto, September 27-30, 2017.

OCAD University Award for Excellence in Early Stage Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity, 2015-2016. (Recognizes recently-appointed faculty members for their outstanding promise to be highly distinguished researchers, scholars, artists and designers within a university context.)

Hamad bin Khalifa Travel Fellowship, sponsored by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, the Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, and the Qatar Foundation, 2013.

Louise McNutt Fellowship, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, 2012.

College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Year Fellowship, Indiana University, 2011-2012.

Selected Participant for Art and Material Culture in Early Modern Italy: Seminar on Palaeography and Archival Studies I. The Medici Archive Project. Funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, June 27-July 9, 2011.

Doctoral Fellow, "Crossing Boundaries, Creating Images: In Search of the Prophet Muhammad in Literary and Visual Traditions,"under the direction of Prof. Dr. Avinoam Shalem. Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz / Max-Planck Foundation, Florence, Italy, 2009-2011.

Friends of Art Travel Grant, Department of the History of Art, Indiana University, Summer 2009.

Friends of Art Grant for conference travel, Department of the History of Art, Indiana University, 2008.

Travel Subvention, University of York and the Royal Historical Society, Great Britain, 2007.

Indiana University Graduate and Professional Student Organization Travel Award (declined), 2007.

Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada / Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada (SSHRC / CRSH), 2006-2009.

Recruitment Fellowship, School of Graduate Studies, Indiana University, 2005-2006.

Selected Publications

"Collapsing Geography and Orientalizing Pigment in a Fourteenth-Century Chromosphere: Italian Painting and Ilkhanid Ceramics," in The Seas and Mobility in Islamic Art: The Eighth Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, ed. Radha Dalal, Sean E. Roberts, and Jochen A. Sokoly (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, in association with Qatar Foundation, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, 2021), 39-53, 297-299.

“Prophet or Sultan? Framing and Restraining Mahomet in Early Seventeenth-Century France,” in Reframing Reformation: Understanding Religious Difference in Early Modern Europe, ed. Nicholas Terpstra. Essays and Studies, 44. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2020, pp. 69–111.

"Diminutive Divination and the Implications of Scale: A Miniature Quranic Falnama of the Safavid Period," in Miniature Books: The Format and Function of Tiny Religious Texts, ed. Kristina Myrvold and Dorina Miller Parmenter (Sheffield: Equinox Publishing, 2019), 72-107.

"Encountering the Body of Muhammad: Intersections between Mi–raj Narratives, the Shaqq al-Sadr, and Dante's Divina Commedia in the Age before Print (c. 1300-1500)," in Constructing the Image of Muhammad in Europe, ed. Avinoam Shalem (Boston and Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2013), 33-86.

"Contesting the Eschaton in Medieval Iberia: The Polemical Intersection of Beatus of Li–bana's Commentary on the Apocalypse and the Prophet's Mi–rajnama," in The Prophet Explores Other Worlds: Cross-Cultural Studies on Muhammad's Ascension (Mi–raj), ed. Christiane J. Gruber and Frederick S. Colby (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), 97-137.

"Between Amulet and Devotion: Islamic Miniature Books in the Lilly Library," in The Islamic Manuscript Tradition: Ten Centuries of Book Arts in Indiana University Collections, ed. Christiane J. Gruber (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), 78-115.

Online Catalogue of Miniature Islamic Manuscripts housed in the Lilly Library, in Bloomington, Indiana. The web module is an adaptation of a Indiana University Art Museum special exhibition, curated by Christiane Gruber, entitled From Pen to Printing Press: Ten Centuries of Islamic Book Arts, on display March 7-May 10, 2009. URL: http://www.iub.edu/~iuam/online_modules/islamic_book_arts/exhibit/miniat...

Professional Affiliations / Boards / Juries

College Art Association; Historians of Islamic Art Association; International Center of Medieval Art; Society for the Medieval Mediterranean; Renaissance Society of America; Italian Art Society; External Grant Referee for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada / Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada (SSHRC / CRSH).