University of Rochester

Thomas C. Devaney

Position: Assistant Professor

Field: European History

Specialty: Late medieval and early modern Europe; urban history; interfaith relations.

Education: PhD, Brown University, 2011

Curriculum vitae

Contact Info

417 Rush Rhees Library
Dept. of History
Rochester, NY 14627-0070

phone: 585.276.6861
fax: 585.756.4425

Thomas Devaney

Fields of Interest:

My principal research interests are urban communities, interfaith relations, and public spectacles in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. I am particularly interested how cities were often conglomerations of smaller communities, creating composite societies that required various efforts to mitigate tensions and avoid internal conflict. The geographic focus of much of my recent work has been Spain, but I have also addressed similar themes—including identity, civic spectacle, and cross-confessional relations—across the Mediterranean world.

My recent book, Enemies in the Plaza: Urban Spectacle and the End of Spanish Frontier Culture, 1460-1492, engages many of these subjects. In it, I examine how the conditions that prevailed in cities close to Castile’s border with Granada fostered a dissonant outlook toward religious minorities which I describe as an ‘amiable enmity.’ The resulting social anxieties left the populace vulnerable to attempts by elites to either deflect or exacerbate existing confessional tensions through public spectacle.

I am currently at work on several article-length projects in which I am, among other things, exploring interfaith relations through early modern concepts of ‘race’, the formation of local memories, and the adaptation of traditions of pageantry to fit new contexts in Spanish North Africa. Finally, I am beginning a new book project, which will focus on the emotional and cognitive experience of pilgrimages to local shrines in the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century. My goal is that this book will broaden our understanding of how people actually experienced such events and also how they contributed to the formation of local communal identities.

I will be on leave during the 2015-2016 academic year, conducting research at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany ( and at the University of Helsinki’s Collegium for Advanced Studies (

Graduate Fields:

I offer the following fields for the PhD qualifying examination. For explanations of fields, see the "Graduate Overview" page in the Graduate Handbook.

Teaching Fields:
Western Civilization I
Late-Medieval European History
Early Modern European History
Renaissance and Reformation

Research Fields:
Late-Medieval European History
Early Modern European History
Early Modern Mediterranean History
Urban History
Interfaith Relations

I will be accepting students for admission in Fall 2016.

Courses Offered:

Representative Publications:

  • “Virtue, Virility and History in Fifteenth-Century Castile,” Speculum 88.3 (July, 2013).
  • “Spectacle, Community, and Holy War in Fourteenth-Century Cyprus,” Medieval Encounters 19.3 (2013): 300-41.
  • “Competing Spectacles in the Venetian Festa delle Marie,” Viator 39.1 (Spring, 2008): 107-25.
  • “Representing the Medieval Festivals of Jaén through Text, Enactment and Image,” in Re-Presenting the Past: Archaeology through Image and Text, ed. Sheila Bonde and Stephen Houston (Oakville, CT: Oxbow, 2013)
  • Enemies in the Plaza: Urban Spectacle and the End of Spanish Frontier Culture, 1460-1492 (June 2015)