Renowned Harvard Medievalist Dies

Morton Wilfred Bloomfield, the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of English Emeritus, died Tuesday after a short illness at the age of 73.

Known as a specialist on medieval literature, Bloomfield taught at Harvard for 24 years, four of which he spent as chairman of the English Department, before retiring two years ago. Over the past two years, Bloomfield continued to teach graduate students.

Colleagues remembered the two-time Guggenheim fellow as one of the top scholars in his field. English Professor Jerome Buckley called Bloomfield "the dean of medievalists in the U.S."

English Professor Derek Pearsall, also a medievalist who says he came to Harvard to work with Bloomfield, praised the professor's publications, "The Seven Deadly Sins: An Introduction to the History of a Religious Concept" and "Piers Plowman as a Fourteenth-Century Apocalypse" in particular.

Pearsall added that Bloomfield was remarkably interdisciplinary, as demonstrated by his association with the Comparative Literature department while he was at Harvard.


English Professor William Alfred said Bloomfield was "a very great scholar. He had a gift of generous scholarship, which is quite rare. He discovered things, and then left them open for others to study, much like discovering a gold mine and telling someone else that perhaps they should look in there."