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Ronald C. Finucane

Distinguished Professor

The Department of History at Oakland University is deeply saddened to announce the sudden passing of Professor Ronald C. Finucane. Professor Finucane, an internationally acclaimed scholar of Medieval history, died on September 1, 2009, after a short illness. He is survived by his wife, Claudia Voit, as well as a son and a step-daughter. The author of four important and very well-received books, a winner of numerous fellowships and research grants, and a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Historical Society, Professor Finucane was also the recipient of Oakland University's highest honor in 2007 when he was given the title of Distinguished Professor, an honor accorded to only a handful of faculty members in Oakland's 50-year history. Previously, he had won Oakland's coveted Research Excellence Award. All of these honors are a testament to his illustrious reputation on campus, across the nation and around the world. Finucane, who earned a Ph.D. from Stanford and also studied at Oxford University, came to Oakland in 1991 to become department chair, a post he held for three terms. He was later known to many Oakland students as one of the department's undergraduate advisers, a task that required regular meetings with history majors and minors to plan coursework, oversee graduation requirements, and consult about career goals. Several of Professor Finucane's former students at Oakland, inspired by his teaching and example, later went on to pursue graduate degrees in history themselves. Finucane was many things to those of us at Oakland: a teacher and adviser to students, a department chair, colleague, and friend to fellow faculty and staff. His contributions to the life of the department and university community were many and varied and he will be missed greatly.

Prof. Finucane's life and career were the subject of a cover story feature in OU Magazine in Fall 2007. At the time of his death, he had recently completed his final book,  Contested Canonizations, which was published posthumously in 2011.

Ph.D., Stanford University

Selected Publications:


Contested Canonizations: The Last Medieval Saints, 1482-1523 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2011).

The Rescue of the Innocents: Endangered Children in Medieval Miracles (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997). A History Book Club selection.

Ghosts: Appearances of the Dead and Cultural Transformation (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996). Italian translation published as  Fantasmi: Apparizioni e trasfigurazioni culturali (Rome: Avverbi, 1997). Originally published as  Appearances of the Dead: A Cultural History of Ghosts (London: Junction, 1982).

Soldiers of the Faith: Crusaders and Moslems at War (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983). A History Book Club selection.

Miracles and Pilgrims: Popular Beliefs in Medieval England (London: Macmillan, 1977; re-issued by St. Martin's Press in 1995). A History Book Club selection.

Articles and Book Chapters

"Authorizing the Supernatural: An Examination of English Miracles Around 1318" in  Aspects of Power and Authority in the Middle Ages, eds. Brenda Bolton and Christine Meek (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2007), 289-303.

"Saint-Making at the End of the Sixteenth Century,"  Hagiographica 9 (2002): 207-58.

"The Example of Early Modern and Nineteenth-Century England" in  Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, eds. James Houran et al (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2001), 9-17.

"Women of the Cross: The Devout, Combative, and Scandalous Women Who Shared in the Crusades,"  Christian History 40 (1993).

"Two Notaries and Their Records in England,"  Journal of Medieval History 13 (1987): 1-14.

"The Registers of Archbishop John Pecham and His Notary, John of Beccles: Some Unnoticed Evidence," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 38 (1987): 406-36.

"Witchcraft" in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Lindsay Jones (London: Macmillan, 1987).

"Cantilupe as Thaumaturge: Pilgrims and Their Miracles" in St. Thomas Cantilupe: Bishop of Heresford, ed. Meryl Jancey (Heresford, 1982).

"Sacred Corpse, Profane Carrion: Social Ideals and Death Rituals in the Later Middle Ages" in Mirrors of Mortality: Studies in the Social History of Death, ed. Joachim Whaley (London: Europa, 1981; reprinted Routledge 2011).

"The Posthumous Miracles of Godric of Finchale," Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society 13 (1975): 47-60.

"The Use and Abuse of Medieval Miracles," History 60 (1975): 1-10.

"Faith Healing in Medieval England: Miracles at Saints' Shrines," Psychiatry 36 (1973): 341-46.

Department of History

Varner Hall, Room 415
371 Varner Dr.
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3510
fax: (248) 370-3528