Beth Plummer

About Beth Plummer

Beth Plummer is the first holder of the Susan C. Karant-Nunn Chair in Reformation and Early Modern European History in the Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies at the University of Arizona.  Before coming to University of Arizona, she held positions at the College of Charleston, University of Maryland University College, and Western Kentucky University. She has been the recipient of grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Herzog August Bibliothek, and NEH. She was a faculty fellow at the Institute for Reformation Studies at the University of St. Andrews (UK) and at the the Institute for Research at the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has served as the program chair and recording officer for the Society for Reformation, a member of several book prize committees, and was one of the organizers for that organization’s joint conference, “Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Reformation Era,” held together with the Verein für Reformation Geschichte held in Nuremberg in 2017.

In addition to teaching Western and World Civilization and undergraduate and graduate courses on Renaissance and Reformation Europe, she has taught a variety of undergraduate seminar and graduate courses in early modern European cultural and social history, including early modern women's history, monasticism and female religious orders, popular religion in pre-modern Europe, early modern printing and propaganda, and crime and punishment in late medieval and early modern Europe.

Areas of Study

Early Modern European Cultural and Social History; Renaissance/Reformation; History of Early Modern Religion; Early Modern Gender History

Projects

I am currently working on two book-length studies on the experiences of nuns in the Holy Roman Empire during the long Reformation. The first, "Stripping the Veil: Convent Reform, Evangelical Nuns, and Female Devotional Life in Sixteenth-Century Germany," analyzes the complex process leading to the survival of convents in Protestant areas and the emerging religious hybridity in many female religious houses that ultimately led to Protestant and Catholic nuns living together. The second, "Building Walls and Sharing Space: Living with Religious Diversity in Pluriconfessional Convents in the Holy Roman Empire, 1590-1750," explores how continued religious diversity in convents led to shifts in devotional practices and conflicts and compromise inside and outside female religious houses before and after the Thirty Years' War.

I also continue research for a project on marriage promises [Eheversprechen], secret marriage [heimliche Ehe], and broken engagement [gebrochene Verlobung] during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Swabia and Lower Saxony. This study focuses on the creation of a social norm of marriage and sexuality, controlled by state rather than church officials or communities, and the subsequent criminalization of irregular or transgressive sexual unions initiated during the Reformation.

 

Selected Publications

Priest's Whore to Pastor's Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation. St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2012 pbk. Routledge, 2017). Awarded Gerald Strauss Book Prize 2013.

Editor (with Joel Harrington). Names and Naming in Early Modern Germany. Oxford, UK: Berghahn, forthcoming.

Editor (with Victoria Christman). Topographies of Tolerance and Intolerance: Responses to Religious Pluralism in Reformation Europe. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

Editor (with Carina Johnson, David Luebke, and Jesse Spohnholz). Archeologies of Confession: Writing the German Reformation, 1517-2017. Spektrum, vol. 16. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2017.

Editor (with Robin Barnes), Ideas and Cultural Margins in Early Modern Germany: Essays in Honor of H.C. Erik Midelfort. Aldershot, Hambleton: Ashgate Publishing, 2009.

“A View from the Choir: Forming Lutheran Culture in Pluriconfessional Westphalian Convents.” Past and Present 234 (2017), Supplement 12 [In Cultures of Lutheranism: Reformation Repertoires in the Early Modern Era, edited by Kat Hill]: 189-211.

“‘Partner in his Calamities’: Pastors’ Wives, Married Nuns and the Experience of Clerical Marriage in the Early German Reformation.” Gender and History 20, no. 2 (2008): 207-27.

“Clerical Marriage and Territorial Reformation in Ernestine Saxony and the Diocese of Merseburg in 1522-1524.” Archive for Reformation History 98 (2007): 45-70.

Research Interests

My primary research focus is on the early Reformation; most specifically the impact of the reform movement on family and gender roles and the role played by printing, propaganda, and changing legal development on social and religious identity in Early Modern Germany. I have published articles on the topic of clerical marriage during the early German Reformation in the Archive for Reformation History and Gender and History in addition to articles in essay collections. I edited a collection of essays, Ideas and Cultural Margins in Early Modern Germany, with Robin Barnes in honor of H.C. Erik Midelfort in 2009, Archeologies of Confession: Writing the German Reformation, 1517-2017 with Carina Johnson, David Luebke, and Jesse Spohnholz in 2017, and Topographies of Tolerance and Intolerance: Responses to Religious Pluralism in Reformation Europe with Victoria Christman in 2018. My first book, From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation (2012) was the 100th volume in the St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History. This book examines the active role that the laity, local clergy, and magistrates played in situating the theological controversies over clerical marriage in local negotiations over religious reform and social norms. By exploring the resulting debates and disputes, I demonstrate how new norms of clerical and lay behavior resulted and connect this change to broader intellectual and public concerns about marriage, gender, and social identity.

My next book-length project, "Stripping the Veil: Nuns and the Experience of Laicization in Sixteenth-Century Europe," will explore the experiences of former and current nuns in Protestant areas and Protestant and Catholic nuns living in pluriconfessional convents during the dissolution and reform of monastic life, by studying the changes brought about for these women as a result of the sixteenth century reform movements. I am also conducting research for a project on marriage promises [Eheversprechen] secret marriage [heimliche Ehe] and broken engagement [gebrochene Verlobung] in sixteenth century Germany. This is the initial stage of a study on the creation of a social norm of marriage, controlled by state rather than church officials, and the subsequent criminalization, initiated during the Reformation, of irregular sexual unions.

Works in Progress:

Stripping the Veil: Convent Reform, Protestant Nuns, and Female Devotional Life in Sixteenth-Century Germany.

Building Walls and Sharing Space: Protestant Nuns, Religious Diversity, and Pluriconfessional Convents in the Holy Roman Empire, 1590-1750.

Beth Plummer's picture

Contact Information

Beth Plummer
Associate Professor, Susan C. Karant-Nunn Professor of Reformation and Early Modern European History, Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies
Telephone: 520-626-9193
Fax: 520-621-2422
Office: Douglass 307
Office Hours: On Sabbatical

Degree(s)

Ph.D. (1996)  in European History, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Primary Fields: Early Modern Europe, Renaissance and Reformation, Social History Secondary Field: Medieval Europe.  Dissertation: "Reforming the Family: Marriage, Gender and the Lutheran Household in Early Modern Germany, 1500-1620." Advisor: H. C. Erik Midelfort; Doctoral Committee: Carlos Eire, Duane Osheim, Lawrence Goedde

M.A. (1988) in European History, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Master’s Thesis: “‘Vera Famiglia’: Familial Images in the Letters of Catherine of Siena”. Advisor: Duane J. Osheim

B.A. (1985), cum laude with Highest Distinction, in History and English, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY;  History Honors Thesis: “Across the Round Table: A Vision of Kingship in the Middle Ages”

Courses Taught

HIST 160B1 History of Western Civilization: From the Rise of Cities to the Counter Reformation

HIST 408/508 The Renaissance

HIST 409/509 The Reformation

HIST 695E Advanced Topics in Women's History

HIST 696F Early Modern Europe Seminar

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Contact Us

Department of History
César E. Chávez Bldg.
Main Office, Room 415 
1110 James E. Rogers Way
Tucson, AZ 85721

Email: history@email.arizona.edu
Tel: (520) 621-1586
Fax: (520) 621-2422