Professor of History
Chair, Department of History
Joel Harrington is a historian of Europe, specializing in the Reformation and early modern Germany, with research interests in various aspects of social history. His most recent book is The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013). Previous publications include The Unwanted Child: The Fate of Foundlings, Orphans, and Juvenile Criminals in Early Modern Germany (University of Chicago Press, 2009), winner of the 2010 Roland H. Bainton Prize for History; Reordering Marriage and Society in Reformation Germany (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2005), one of Choice’s Outstanding Academic Titles of 1996; and A Cloud of Witnesses: Readings in the History of Western Christianity (Houghton Mifflin, 2001). Projects currently underway include a study of the late medieval mystic Meister Eckhart and a comparison of the early modern prosecution of infanticide and witchcraft.
Harrington has been awarded fellowships from--among others--the Fulbright-Hayes Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the American Philosophical Society. He has lectured widely in North America and Europe and he has resided as a visiting fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, Herzog August Bibliothek (Wolfenbüttel), Institut für Geschichte der Medizin (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg), and Clare College (Cambridge).
Professor Harrington has taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses at Vanderbilt since his arrival in 1989, including the history of Christian traditions, Reformation Europe, religion and the occult in early modern Europe, and early modern social history. From 2004-2011 he served as Vanderbilt's first senior international officer (Associate Provost for Global Strategy), a full-time administrative position, and before that, from 2000-2004, he was Director of the Center for European Studies.