Dr Jessica Patterson

Lecturer in the History of Political Thought
Fellow of Newnham College

I am a historian of eighteenth and nineteen-century intellectual culture and political thought. I took my first degree in History, at the University of Cambridge. I then completed an MA in the History of Political Thought and Intellectual History, which was offered jointly by Queen Mary University of London and University College London. Following this, my AHRC funded PhD was completed at the University of Manchester, where I was a President’s Doctoral Scholar. Prior to joining the History Faculty at Cambridge in 2020, I lectured on intellectual history at Queen Mary and the history of political thought at King’s College London.

My research concerns the intellectual history of the long eighteenth century, which includes religious, philosophical and political thought. My work to date has focused on the enlightenment and British India. I am particularly interested in the representation, by East India Company officials, of Indian philosophy and religion. In addition to a forthcoming book manuscript, my research in this area has appeared in several articles, the details of which can be found below. I am also currently working on an account of British intellectual constructions of India's political and social mores, and the impact of these discourses on contemporary conceptions of the political category of despotism. My next major project concerns the relationship between Britain's turn to empire and British radical political thought in the 1790s-1820s.

I lecture on the history of political thought and the enlightenment, primarily for Part I Paper 20 and Part II Paper 4, as well as supervise dissertations for the MPhil in the History of Political Thought.


Tags & Themes


Newnham College, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge, CB3 9DF


Article: “Forging Indian Religion: East India Company Servants and the Construction of ‘Gentoo’/‘Hindoo’ Scripture in the 1760s”, Journal for EighteenthCentury Studies, (2020).

Article: “Enlightenment and Empire, Mughals and Marathas: The Religious History of India in the Work of Company Servant, Alexander Dow”, History of European Ideas, 45:7, (2019).

Article: “An Eighteenth-Century Account of Sati: John Zephaniah Holwell's ‘Religious Tenets of the Gentoos’ and ‘Voluntary Sacrifice’ (1767)”, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 40:1 (2017).