Western Kentucky University
line decor
line decor

Teaching Interests

In addition to teaching Western and World Civilization and undergraduate and graduate courses on Renaissance and Reformation Europe, I have taught a variety of seminar courses in Early Modern European Cultural and Social History, including Monasticism and Female Religious Orders, Popular Religion in Pre-modern Europe, Early Modern Printing and Propaganda, and Crime and Punishment in Medieval and Early Modern Europe.

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.

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.



Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies
Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1996
Fields: Renaissance and Reformation Europe



Contact Information:

Western Kentucky University
Department of History
1906 College Heights Blvd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101

Office: 223B Cherry Hall
Phone: (270) 745-5739
Email: beth.plummer[at]wku.edu