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Chair of Vanderbilt History Department Visits Honors Students

Dr. Harrington signing a student's copy of his book

Dr. Harrington signing a student's copy of his bookDr. Joel Harrington, chair of the Department of History at Vanderbilt University, recently visited the Belmont Honors “Age of Exploration” classes to discuss his book, “The Faithful Executioner: Life, Death, Honor, and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century.” The classes are studying the Renaissance and Reformation periods of early modern Europe with a special focus on the 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses, which were nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517.

Harrington’s book follows the thoughts of the official executioner for the city of Nuremburg, Germany in the late 1500s, based on a journal he kept that detailed the people he executed and interrogated. Harrington stumbled upon the journal while he was on sabbatical in Germany and used the text to create an analysis of the concepts of honor and shame surrounding executioners, who were usually cast out by society due to their “unclean” profession. “The Faithful Executioner” has been translated into ten languages and was named one of the “Best Books of 2013” by The Telegraph and History Today.

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