Timothy Fehler

Timothy Fehler

William E. Leverette, Jr., Professor, History

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Tim Fehler grew up in rural northern Illinois before moving to Alabama for high school. After studying math and history at Baylor University, he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Renaissance and Reformation history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined Furman’s history department in 1995, and for six years he also directed Furman’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Internships (overseeing Furman faculty's national recognition for our Campus-wide Undergraduate Research Accomplishments "AURA" by CUR in 2016). His research has focused particularly on questions of poverty and social welfare as well as religious persecution and co-existence in early modern Europe. During more than two decades of teaching at Furman, Tim has directed several study away programs in Europe and the Mediterranean, most recently the semester-long program in Central Europe entitled “Repression, Resistance, and Remembrance.” His research also takes him to the archives in and around northern Germany, where he and his family have lived for four years in the past couple decades.  His most recent book was co-authored with his Furman student collaborator.

“My passion for history includes an emphasis on the relationship between ideals and lived experiences. ‘History’ is not a mere listing of past events. Rather, the purpose of reading sources is for us to ground our engagement with the actual, often complicated, experiences and perspectives of people in a variety of different contexts. Careful analysis allows us to develop an empathetic understanding of what happened to other people, what they did, why they (re)acted in that way, and whether those actions meshed with or contradicted articulated beliefs or ideas.”​


  • NEH Summer Seminar participant in "Persecution, Toleration, Co-Existence: Early Modern Responses to Religious Pluralism" (4 weeks, Calvin College, 2013).
  • Mellon Grant for Faculty Career Enhancement to organize workshops on "Teaching Religion and Global Contact in the Medieval and Early Modern World" (2011-12 at Furman and Denison).
  • Princeton Review's The Best 300 Professors (Random House, 2012), 172-3.
  • Research fellowships include: Gerhard ten Doornkaat Koolmann Stiftung for cultural studies in East Frisia, Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek in Emden, Institut für Europäische Geschichte in Mainz, Fulbright Commission.
  • Furman's annual award for Meritorious Teaching (2001).


  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • B.A., Baylor University


  • Books

    Selected Other Publications

    • “Víctimas como Demandantes: Consistorios,“ (translated by Noa Alarcón), in Fe y castigo: Inquisiciones y consistorios calvinistas en el mundo moderno, edited by Charles H. Parker and Gretchen Starr-LeBeau. 201-213 (Madrid: Catedra Press, 2020).
    • “Die Emder Gotteskammern und ihre Bewohnerinnen zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts,” in Freie Friesen Töchter: Tradition und gelebte Wirklichkeit, edited by Klaas-Dieter Voß, 97-116 (Oldenburg: Isensee Verlag, 2019).
    • "Coexistence and Confessionalization: Emden's Topography of Religious Pluralism," in Topographies of Tolerance and Intolerance: Responses to Religious Pluralism in Reformation Europe, edited by Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer and Victoria Christman, 78-105 (Leiden: Brill, 2018).
    • "Victims as Actors: Consistories," in Judging Faith, Punishing Sin: Inquisitions and Consistories in the Early Modern World, edited by Charles H. Parker and Gretchen Starr-LeBeau, 180-192 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
    • Articles "East Frisia," "Emden," "Emser, Jerome," and "Social Ministry," in Encyclopedia of Martin Luther and the Reformation, edited by Mark Lamport, vol. 1, 220-222, 235-238, 239-240; vol. 2, 716-717 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).
    • "Creating Boundaries in Emden, Germany: Confession, Language, Poor Relief, and Spaces of the Dutch Reformed Refugees," in Early Modern Ethnic and Religious Communities in Exile, edited by Yosef Kaplan, 314-330 (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017).
    • "Armenfürsorge und die Entwicklung der Informations- und Unterstützungsnetzwerke in und zwischen reformierten Exilgemeinden," in Praktiken der Frühen Neuzeit. Akteure - Handlungen - Artefakte, edited by Arndt Brendecke, 245-255 (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 2015).
    • "Pastors and the Poor in 16th-century Calvinist Emden, Germany," in Agir pour l'Église: Ministères et charges ecclésiastiques dans les églises réformées (XVIe-XIXe), edited by Didier Poton and Raymond A. Mentzer, 43-56 (Paris: Les Indes savantes, 2014).
    • "Calvinism and Anabaptism around Emden: Disputation and Discipline," in Politics, Gender, and Belief: The Long-Term Impact of the Reformation, edited by Amy Nelson Burnett, et al, 179-205 (Geneva: Droz, 2014).
    • "Coping with Poverty: Dutch Reformed Exiles in Emden, Germany," in Religious Diaspora in Early Modern Europe, edited by T. Fehler, G. Kroeker, et al., 121-135 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2013).
    • "Le diaconat inconnu de l'Emden réformée: le consistoire et la découverte des « diacres des domestiques de la foy »" in Les œuvres protestantes en Europe, edited by Céline Borello, 207-219 (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013).
    • "Conflict and Compromise in International Calvinism: Ysbrand Trabius Balck's Pastoral Mediations in Exile and Beyond," Reformation and Renaissance Review 10: 3 (2008): 291-313.


  • “‘Especially unto those of the household of faith’: Menso Alting, Discipline, and Community in Emden’s Social Welfare,” Sixteenth Century Society & Conference, St. Louis, October 2019
  • "Between Good Works and Good 'Polizei': The Impact of Protestantism on Social Welfare in the Case of Calvinist Emden" in session At the Origins of Welfare: Institutions and Practices of Socail Assistance in Europe (14th-19th Centuries, XVIII World Economic History Conference, Boston, August 2018
  • “Refugee Widows, Mothers, and Children: Immigrant Families in the Dutch Revolt,” Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Milwaukee, October 2017
  • ​"Piety, Politics, and Print: The Early Protestant Reformation" and "The Radical Reformation: Co-existence, Persecution, and Martyrdom" lectures for Reformation 500​ series at USC-Upstate, September/October 2017
  • "'These Troubled and Distracted Times': Prodigies, Prognostication, and Christian Astrology during the English Revolution," co-presented with Abigail Hartman at the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Bruges, Belgium, August 2016.
  • "A Friendly Discussion on Baptism?: Bernhard Bowu and Reformed Responses to Anabaptists in East Frisia" and "A Dutch Pastoral Exhortation in Exile" as Roundtable participant: Defining Religious Exile in Early Modern Europe: Inner and Outer Exiles, at the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Vancouver, October 2015.
  • "Creating Boundaries in Emden, Germany: Spaces, Confession, Language, and Poor Relief of the Dutch Reformed Refugees" at the "Early Modern Ethnic and Religious Communities in Exile" Conference, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, April 2015.
  • "Co-existence and Confessionalization: Emden's Topography of Religious Pluralism" and "Roundtable on Teaching Toleration" at the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, New Orleans, October 2014.
  • Plenary speaker at the Ostfriesland Genealogical Society of America 2014 meeting.
  • "Armenfürsorge und die Entwicklung der Informations- und Unterstützungsnetzwerke in und zwischen reformierten Exilgemeinden," in panel on "Religiöser Praxis im Exil" at the conference of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft "Frühe Neuzeit" im Verband der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands, Munich, 12-14 September 2013.
  • "Menso Alting und die Armenfürsorge in Emden," public lecture in Emden, Germany, as concluding keynote for exhibition Menso Alting und seine Zeit, 7 March 2013.
  • "'What Business are My Deeds to the Consistory?': Discipline and Agency before Reformed Consistories," Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Cincinnati, October 2012.
  • "Responses to Poverty in the Immigrant Communities during the Dutch Revolt of the 16th Century," at the conference Early Modern Migrations: Exiles, Expulsion, & Religious Refugees, 1400–1700, Victoria College in the University of Toronto, 19–21 April 2012.
  • "Calvinism and Anabaptism around Emden: Disputation and Discipline," Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Ft. Worth, October 2011.