Michael J. Halvorson
Author, Historian, Speaker, Programmer


Michael Halvorson is a scholar of early modern Europe, a fascinating age of innovation associated with Renaissance and Reformation movements, Tudor England, the Scientific Revolution, and the discovery of new geographic worlds.

As an associate professor of History at Pacific Lutheran University, Halvorson teaches ancient, medieval, and early modern History topics, as well as seminars on historical methodology.  He received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in History from the University of Washington, and has published essays in Sixteenth Century Journal, Lutheran Quarterly, and Archive for Reformation History.

Current research- Renaissance: All That Matters

Halvorson's current history project is a study of the Renaissance in Europe, c. 1350-1600. Entitled Renaissance: All That Matters, this fast-paced introduction to the Renaissance is published by Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd. (UK) and McGraw-Hill (North America). (160 pages; ISBN-10: 1444192949.)  Readers can download the Kindle version now from Amazon or purchase the printed version from amazon.com or amazon.uk. (McGraw-Hill version released on February 8, 2015.)

The project examines the Renaissance movement from its beginnings in Italian city/states to later cultural, political, and scientific developments in France, Spain, England, and Germany. The All That Matters series is designed for trade and academic audiences, and provides an introduction to important historical and contemporary topics.
Chapter 1 of Renaissance: All That Matters is set in the University of Cambridge (UK), where Renaissance learning and scholarship continue to shape cultural traditions and the curriculum.

Books on Other Historical Subjects:

Heinrich Heshusius and Confessional Polemic in Early Lutheran Orthodoxy (Ashgate, 2010)

Heinrich Heshusius and Confessional Polemic in Early Lutheran Orthodoxy

Purchase at Ashgate.com!
(For a 50% discount on this book, order on Ashgate.com and enter the code 50BKE14N at checkout.)

Heinrich Heshusius (1556-97) was a Lutheran pastor, superintendent, and polemicist during an important era of transition and consolidation during the Protestant Reformation in Germany. This book offers an introduction to Heshusius's writings and ideas, and explores the wider world of late-sixteenth-century German Lutheranism in which Heshusius lived and worked. In particular, it looks at the important but inadequately understood network of Lutheran clergymen in North Germany centred around universities such as Rostock, Jena, Königsberg, and Helmstedt, and territories such as Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, in the years after the promulgation of the Formula of Concord (1577).

Contents: Preface; Introduction: pastors and polemics in early Lutheran orthodoxy; Heshusius and the University of Helmstedt circle; The Psalms catechism and lay indoctrination in early orthodoxy; Heshusius and Lutheran preaching: catechetical sermons; Heshusius and Lutheran preaching: funeral and wedding sermons; Confessional conflict in Hildesheim: struggles with Jews, Jesuits, and Rudolf II; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.

Reviews: 'This study illuminates one of the more obscure corners of early modern church history with historical sensitivity and theological discernment.' Lutheran Quarterly

'Halvorson exhibits a fine grasp of scholarly discussions... By looking carefully at the academic preparation, career development, and printed works of a prominent (but not famous) clergyman, Halvorson has given us a window into the world of early Lutheran orthodoxy.' Sixteenth Century Journal

'By examining an unknown yet influential clergyman and what his life and work reveal about the culture of early Lutheran Orthodoxy, this book renders a helpful service to the field of Reformation Studies.' Religious Studies Review

Defining Community in Early Modern Europe, co-editor with Karen E. Spierling (Ashgate, 2008)

Defining Community in Early Modern Europe

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(For a 50% discount on this book, order on Ashgate.com and enter the code 50BKE14N at checkout.)

This collection of history essays is the first systematic attempt to collect important examples of research on the term "community" in early modern Europe. The sixteen original essays in this collection survey major regions of Western Europe, including France, Geneva, the German Lands, Italy and the Spanish Empire, the Netherlands, England, and Scotland. Complementing the regional diversity is a broad spectrum of religious confessions: Roman Catholic communities in France, Italy, and Germany; Reformed churches in France, Geneva, and Scotland; Lutheran communities in Germany; Mennonites in Germany and the Netherlands; English Anglicans; Jews in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands; and Muslim converts returning to Christian England.

The volume illuminates the variety of ways in which communities were defined and operated across early modern Europe: as imposed by community leaders or negotiated across society; as defined by belief, behavior, and memory; as marked by rigid boundaries and conflict or by flexibility and change; as shaped by art, ritual, charity, or devotional practices; and as characterized by the contending or overlapping boundaries of family, religion, and politics. Taken together, these chapters demonstrate the complex and changeable nature of community in an era more often characterized as a time of stark certainties and inflexibility.

Reviews:  ‘Defining Community offers rich observation and analysis of community life, which will appeal to a broad spectrum of scholars.’ Journal of Ecclesiastical History

‘As a preliminary effort to assess the state of the field of communal studies, this volume of essays is a most welcome and appropriate addition to the literature.’ Religious Studies Review

'This excellent collection of papers demonstrates how current cultural historians can do justice to a key idea and human experience by capturing its diversity, complexity, and subtlety. Here community is not sublime but historicized, and thus the volume deserves wide attention among scholars of culture and social interaction.' Sixteenth Century Journal

'The editors of this excellent volume are firstly to be commended for their informative introduction. They provide a very useful overview of recent research into community formation and definition in early modern Europe, stressing both the factors that allowed social, religious and political groups to assert their identity and also the many issues that made sustaining community cohesion an endlessly challenging task.' Reformation and Renaissance Review

A Lutheran Vocation: Philip A. Nordquist and the Study of History at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU Press, 2005)
Edited by Robert P. Ericksen and Michael J. Halvorson

Purchase at Garfield Book Company, Parkland, WA.

This Festschrift celebrates Philip A. Nordquist's many contributions to academic life within Pacific Lutheran University, and honors his formative influence on a generation of students who are now working as professional academics. The book describes the role that the history department played in the early life of Pacific Lutheran College, the importance of scholarship, teaching, and service within the department, and new directions that the department and its graduates are exploring in historical research.

Lo-ha-ra-no (The Water Spring): Missionary Tales from Madagascar, Second Edition (Warren & Howe Press, 2003)
By Antonette Nilsen Halvorson
Edited by Michael James Halvorson

The fascinating memoir of the Nilsen-Halvorson family, who worked for three generations as Lutheran missionaries in the intriguing island nation of Madagascar (1867–1959). Loharano sensitively describes the vast natural beauty of Madagascar, the hardship and excitement of life in the interior, the beliefs and rituals of Malagasy traditional religion, the positive impact of the Christian gospel, and the tragic colonial struggle between French and Malagasy soldiers in the early 20th century. The text is supported by dozens of rare photographs from the original missionary excursions and four thought-provoking essays about the legacy of Lutheran missionary activity.

Review: 'A thoroughly engaging book…the complexities of missionary life in a difficult environment are thoughtfully portrayed. Christians who contemplate missionary work abroad or in their own neighborhoods would do well to overhear lessons from this exciting memoir.”   Bishop Robert D. Hofstad, Southwest Washington Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America