David C.R. Austen

PhD Candidate

After completing my BA and MPhil at the University of Cambridge, I began doctoral studies in 2021, supervised by Michael Edwards. In general terms, my research concerns the boundary between the religious and intellectual histories of early modern Europe: how theological thought both shaped and was shaped by the development (or otherwise) of metaphysics, natural philosophy, political and ethical thought, and scholarship more widely. More specifically, my doctoral research explores how puritan theologians in mid- to late-seventeenth century England received, challenged, and shaped the philosophical and scientific developments of their day: the philosophical systems of Thomas Hobbes, Pierre Gassendi, and René Descartes, as well as the thought of the early Royal Society.

My doctoral research is generously funded by the Gurnee Hart and Hogwood PhD Scholarship at Jesus College, while my MPhil was funded by the Cambridge Trust, Jesus College, and Baillie Gifford. I am also an honorary Cambridge Trust PhD scholar.

My research interests span early modern theology, the social history of religion, the history of philosophy, and the history of science. I am also interested in how each of these relates to the history of political thought.

More broadly, I am interested in contemporary theology in the Reformed and Roman Catholic traditions, and how these traditions today are shaped by their understanding of their past, particularly in terms of the intellectual history of the early modern period.

I supervise undergraduate students in POL7 (Paper 19), 'The History of Political Thought to c. 1700'.

Key publications

‘Puritanism and Natural Philosophy revisited: the case of Ralph Austen (c.1612–1676)’, in The Seventeenth Century 39, no. 3 (2024): 359–99.