The Rewarding Process of Research: Dr. Raymond Sickinger Discusses His Newest Biography

by The Cowl Editor on November 9, 2018


Dr. Sickinger discusses the rewarding process of finalizing his research.

By Micaela Freeman ’20

Dr. Raymond Sickinger, a professor of history,  has made a mark during his 44 years at Providence College.

Students had the opportunity to listen to Sickinger talk about his book debut on Monday, November 5 at 3 p.m. in the Fiondella Great Room in Ruane.

Sickinger’s book, Antoine Frederic Ozanam, was published in 2017 by University of Notre Dame Press in Notre Dame, Indiana.

As chair of the history and classics department at PC, Sickinger is a professor of history and served as director of the Feinstein Institute in the early 2000s.

Sickinger has contributed to the literary world with multiple publications including his article, “Apocalypse Now: Magic and the Millennium,” in the Journal of Popular Culture.

The professor is also a member of the Saint Vincent De Paul Society, which is the largest Catholic organization in the world that helps those in need. The society is worldwide and has active participants in over 150 countries. Sickinger has played a role in the society for 33 years.

He said he is passionate for history and advocating for Antoine Frederic Ozanam, who with the help of fellow scholars, helped change democracy in 19th century France. Ozanam was also a philanthropist and believed in helping others in any way he could.

The biographical novel was created for many reasons, according to Sickinger, who believed that Ozanam’s narrative deserved to be heard.

Sickinger said the publishing of his book was a long process, but well worth the wait as well as the  research.

“It has been a wonderful eight year journey for sure,” Sickinger said as he began to present Monday’s talk.

The book, which received first prize for biography from the National Catholic Press Association, was a “labor of love” in Sickinger’s eyes.

In his talk, he explored how Ozanam helped shape German history, which is an interest of Sickinger’s as a professor.

“Ozanam is the reason I joined the St. Vincent De Paul Society,” Sickinger said. “He contributed to history immensely.”

In discussion, Sickinger admitted that his biographical novel can also be claimed as the only comprehensive biography of Frenchman Ozanam.

“It fills a gap that’s been lacking. I think it’s wonderful to see it come to life and see people see this individual come to life,” he said.

Ozanam was a literary scholar as well as lawyer, and according to Sickinger, Ozanam connected two philosophical tenets together. Ozanam left his own mark on the 19th century, creating the Society Sickinger helps direct as a member of the board of directors. Ozanam also advocated for Catholic democracy in response to the French revolution.

Sickinger said he enjoyed delving into the literary and philosophical works and thoughts Ozanam produced.

“What I find interesting is that he [Ozanam] put Dante and Aquinas in the same realms,” Sickinger said.

Sickinger’s book is on the shelf and many students and fellow professors listened eagerly as Sinkinger poured out history and passion.