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WKU faculty member’s book earns Reformation History award

Dr. Beth Plummer, associate professor of history at WKU, received the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference’s Gerald Strauss Prize in Reformation History for her book From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation.

Dr. Beth Plummer

Dr. Beth Plummer

The award, presented at the SCSC’s annual meeting Oct. 24 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, recognizes the best book published in English during the preceding year in the field of German Reformation history.

From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife (Ashgate, 2012) was the 100th volume in the St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History.

Plummer, who has been at WKU since 2003, received her bachelor’s degree from University of Rochester in New York and her master’s and doctorate from the University of Virginia. Her primary research focus is on the early Reformation; family, gender, and religion in early modern Europe; and crime and punishment in 16th-century Germany.

Dr. Beth Plummer's book received the Gerald Strauss Prize in Reformation History.

Dr. Beth Plummer’s book received the Gerald Strauss Prize in Reformation History.

The Gerald Strauss Book Prize is named in honor of Gerald Strauss, the influential scholar of the German Reformation and longtime Distinguished Professor of History at Indiana University.

In its citation for From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife, the award committee noted: Drawing on a broad array of unpublished archival material (from various locales) and previously little-known prints, Plummer weaves a wonderfully rich and detailed account of the messy, multi-faceted, and convoluted realities surrounding concubinage and marriage in the early German Reformation. This study greatly deepens our understanding of the development of marriage of clergy and its acceptance or rejection during the first half of the sixteenth century. As the author shows, there are tremendous benefits to be gained from approaching this central thematic not through the lens of doctrine but as a social history, from the ground up. In From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife, Plummer has given us a comprehensive and stunning portrait of the men and women, monks and nuns, priests and bishops, commoners and rulers, whose actions, often taken at considerable personal risk, profoundly shaped the course of clerical and marital reforms. Standing at the crossroads of religious history, social history, gender history, history of sexuality, and the history of ideas, this is a work of commendably thorough and mature historical scholarship.

Contact: Beth Plummer, (270) 745-3841.

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