Joel F. Harrington is an author and historian of Europe, best known for his writings about various social aspects of early modern Germany (ca. 1450-1750).  He is currently Centennial Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Vanderbilt University.  His most recent book is The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century (Farrar, Straus and 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 for 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 is a native of Toledo, Ohio.  He studied as an undergraduate the University of Notre Dame (B.A. 1981) and l’Université Catholique de l’Ouest; his graduate work was conducted at the University of Michigan (M.A. 1983; Ph.D. 1989) and Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen.  He 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 University).

Since his 1989 arrival at Vanderbilt, Professor Harrington has taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses, including:  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.

Joel Harrington lives in Nashville with his wife and two children.


Joel Harrington

Joel Harrington