Heather Coffey, PhD joined OCAD University in 2013 and received a tenure-track appointment in Medieval and Renaissance Art History in 2015. Prof. Coffey’s research centres on the history of the links between the Islamic World and Europe to provide a context and an understanding for cultural exchange today. Prof. Coffey is admired for her courageousness as a scholar for venturing into the fraught terrain of the history of Islamic/Christian exchanges in the contemporary context of growing fundamentalism across religious traditions. She demonstrates, through her work and writing, the significance of focused research for understanding and reflecting upon the cross‐cultural and global realities in which we live.
Prof. Coffey’s historical scholarship, and the way in which it informs her teaching and her mentoring of students, is of the utmost relevance to OCAD and to the research profile of the university. For example, her article in preparation, “To Inspire and Delight: Demi’s Illustrated Mi’rajnama for Children,” provides a brilliant interpretation of contemporary representations of the Islamic World. The article links the compositions in a popular children’s book to complex and shifting regimes of representation that range from present-day Iran to fourteenth-century century Persia. In other projects, Prof. Coffey has set herself the task of envisioning how representations of Islamic culture in Western texts engender cross‐cultural dialogue and exchange both historically and currently. Her intellectual passion and far‐reaching breadth of inquiry is as evident to her students as it is to her peers in her field, for whom her work is of the utmost merit.
Prof. Coffey has received prestigious awards to undertake her doctoral research from multiple agencies and institutions, such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Max‐Plank‐Gesellschaft, and has published impressive articles in significant books on Islamic and Christian art and cross‐cultural perspectives. Most recently, she was a co-applicant for a SSRHC Connections Grant in support of the interdisciplinary conference Global Reformations: Transforming Early Modern Religions, Societies, and Cultures, at the invitation of Dr. Nicholas Terpstra at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies in September 2017.