WKU History Department - Faculty and Staff - Paul Strauss
Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2016
Fields: Reformation, Early Modern Europe, Renaissance, Cultural History
Office: Cherry Hall 233
Phone: (270) 745-3841
I am interested in religious beliefs and practices during the tumultuous Renaissance and Reformation periods in Europe, especially between 1450 and 1650, and how Europeans expressed those beliefs. My dissertation focused on Christian portrayals of Muslims and Jews in sermons printed in German-speaking lands during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Muslims and Jews were the non-Christians most familiar to German Christians in these years, and preaching was an important medium for the early modern Christian clergy to inculcate their preferred worldviews. Although the Christian clergy used their sermons to disseminate information about these non-Christian groups, preachers were far more concerned to use portrayals of Muslims and Jews to build the confessional identity of their own particular Christian audiences in the wake of the Reformation. My research has been supported by a Fulbright grant among other American and German fellowships.
I teach World History to 1500, emphasizing the development of governments, religious and belief systems, and points of contact between societies. In the Spring 2018 semester, I am offering a course on the Age of the Reformation which will focus on how religious debates and ideas drove changes in European politics, society, and culture. Major course topics include how groups coexisted despite their religious differences as well as reasons driving conflict between these groups. This is reflective of a previous course I taught on Religious Coexistence and Conflict (in the premodern West). I have also taught courses on the Italian Renaissance, the European Baroque era, Premodern Europe, and Western Civilization since 1715. My interest in early modern Europe was stimulated by a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for High School Teachers, "Making Sense of the Reformation," I attended while a high school teacher in rural Missouri.