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Dr. Joseph Byrne

Byrne Bio

Dr. Byrne arrived at Belmont in 1998 after nine years work in the state university system of Georgia. He is a historian who teaches the medieval and early modern sections of the Honors interdisciplinary humanities curriculum for sophomores. He spent his undergraduate years in his native Seattle at the University of Washington, where he earned degrees in business administration and history (1977). He stayed on to complete two masters degrees, in Urban Planning (1979) and history (1982). In 1982 he moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where he completed his Ph.D. in European history (1989), gathering up area certificates in Medieval and Renaissance Studies in the process.

After teaching history for eight years in the state university system of Georgia, Dr. Byrne spent a year doing doctoral coursework at the Institute for Higher Education at the University of Georgia. Further study was also made possible by grants by the National Endowment for the Humanities. These allowed him to explore Renaissance and Baroque architecture in Rome, early Baroque music with the Aston Magna Academy at Rutgers University, Anglo-Saxon England at the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University, Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, and Medieval Jewish-Christian Relations at Oxford University.

He published The Black Death (2004) and Daily Life during the Black Death (2006) with Greenwood Press.  In mid-2008 he finished editing for Greenwood the Encyclopedia of Plagues, Pestilence and Pandemics (2008). He is now working on a single-volume Encyclopedia of the Black Death for ABC-CLIO, which is slated to appear in 2011.  Dr. Byrne is also serving as editor for Greenwood Press's new series "Health and Medicine in Daily Life Through History," and will be writing the volume on the Renaissance era.  He has published numerous journal articles, including several based on his research into the later medieval Italian merchant culture, and over 270 book reviews and encyclopedia articles. His broad interests have led him to research and write on such diverse topics as Greco-Roman slave women, medieval war carts, Latin American exploration, American urbanization, African kings, and William F. Buckley. His reviews have appeared in all of the major American journals in medieval and early modern studies, in the American Historical Review, and in Canadian, Indian and British journals as well.

At Belmont Dr. Byrne teaches two of the four honors courses that satisfy the university's requirements for honors general education. His courses cover the middle ages and the period of the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment. These interdisciplinary courses are designed to present the students with learning and growing experiences that provide skills as well as information. Students study literature, drama, art, philosophy, music, and religion within a well-developed historical context. Beyond reading and research his students stretch by developing websites and PowerPoint presentations, participating in the creation of documentary films, performing Shakespeare and role-playing the issues of the Reformation in Germany. Past films created by the Honors 2010 students were on the Salem witch trials, Renaissance Florence, and the Pre-Columbian Inca. He believes in the value of collaborative learning, group work, portfolio development, and multiple presentation techniques, as well as good old fashioned reading, writing and discussion.

Dr. Byrne has also taught Honors seminars on 19th-century Ireland, the History of London (in London), World Religions (in London), and the Black Death, as well as art history courses in Roman, Early Christian and Byzantine, and Renaissance Italian art.

How to Contact Dr. Byrne:

Phone 615.460.5418
Email Dr. Byrne