Frederick McGinness

Professor Emeritus of History
European history, society and culture

Frederick McGinness is the author of many publications on European cultural history in journals ranging from The Sixteenth Century JournalRoma moderna e contemporanea, to Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques. His book, Right Thinking: Sacred Oratory in Counter-Reformation Rome (1995), received the Howard Marraro Prize for its analysis of the revival of classical rhetoric and patristic homiletics in the preaching revolution at Rome and in Italy in the age of Counter-Reformation. McGinness also addresses what the Roman Catholic Church became after its struggle against the Reformation and how it struggles with the repercussions of this today.  Presently he is preparing a two-volume edition of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s last and largest treatise, Ecclesiastes, or on the Method of Preaching, for the University of Toronto Press.

McGinness, who received the 2008 Mount Holyoke College Faculty Award for Teaching, offers courses as varied as his interests, which cover the writing and abuses of history, religious social conflict, the formation of belief, and religious institutions as complex organizations. He offers introductory history courses on the Medieval World and Europe and the Atlantic World, 1300 to 1700, and intermediate courses such as Doubt, Dissent and Heresy in the Age of Inquisition, the Writing of History, and the Italian Renaissance; upper-level seminars on Martyrdom as Social Protest, Eternal Rome, and Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; and a first-year seminar on Forgery, Fraud, Bunk and Bad History. 

In addition to teaching, McGinness directs the Medieval Studies Program, and for years directed the college’s internship programs and the Complex Organizations Program, where he worked with members of the faculty and faculty committees in finding opportunities for students to apply their academic interests off campus in a wide range of nonprofit and for-profit organizations; he also worked with alumnae here and abroad in enabling students to explore connections between the liberal arts and their lives beyond college.

McGinness is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and a member of the American Historical Association, the Renaissance Society of America, the Medieval Society of America, the Catholic Historical Association, the American Society for Neo-Latin Studies, among others. He works in many ancient and modern languages, including Latin and Greek, Italian, German, French, Spanish.

McGinness received his master’s and doctoral degrees in history from the University of California, Berkeley (1977, 1982), and his undergraduate degree in classics from the University of Detroit (1966); he completed independent studies in philosophy and theology at Loyola University, Chicago; Hochschule Sankt Georgen, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; and did occasional studies at La Universidad de Comillas and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Madrid.

News Links

  • "Fred McGinness on the Pope’s Sex-Abuse Scandal" Office of Communications, April 19, 2010
  • "Baccalaureate Address Frederick J. McGinness," Office of Communications, May 24, 2009 
  • "Faculty Award for Teaching," Office of Communications, February 27, 2008
  • "Celebration of Faculty Accomplishments February 25," Office of Communications, February 18, 2008
  • “Sacred Public Relations,” College Street Journal, January 24, 1997