Niall Dilucia

PhD Candidate in Early Modern History

I studied for my BA in History at St Catharine's College, Cambridge (2014-2017). I stayed at St Catharine's for an MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History (2017-2018), writing a thesis on the relationship between early French Cartesianism and Catholic Eucharistic thought. After a year spent teaching in a secondary school, I returned to Cambridge in 2019 to begin a PhD in early modern intellectual history funded by a Vice-Chancellor's and Judy and Nigel Weiss Scholarship from the Cambridge Trust and Robinson College.

I am supervised by Dr Michael Edwards.

My PhD examines ideas of sociability in the philosophy and theology of three seventeenth century English Catholics: Thomas White (1593-1676), Kenelm Digby (1603-1665), and Christopher Davenport (1598-1680). Through a comparative examination of their printed and manuscript works, it considers how all three figures viewed and advertised their works as presenting solutions to a shared intellectual question: how could Catholics navigate the complex socio-political and confessional demands of early modern society whilst ensuring personal theological salvation? In treating my subjects' responses to this question and the distinct cultural contexts in which they composed them, I primarily aim to develop understandings of the intellectual culture of early modern Catholicism and early modern notions of sociability. 

I am also interested more generally in the history of political thought; the treatment of theology in contemporary historiography; and Neo-Latin studies. 

Robinson College, Cambridge Fellows and Graduates’ Research Day: ‘A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet? Cartesianism, the Eucharist, and the Problem of Philosophical Categorisation’ (January 2020).

Cambridge Workshop for the Early Modern Period: 'Sir Kenelm Digby and the Intellectual Mobility of a Seventeenth-Century Catholic Philosopher' (February 2021).

Between Self and State: Exile in the Early Modern World  (Interdisciplinary two-day conference, University of Cambridge): 'Sir Kenelm Digby and the Intellectual Experiences of an 'Exiled'  Seventeenth-Century Catholic Philosopher' (March 2021). 

For the academic year 2020-21 I am a co-convenor of the Graduate Workshop in Political Thought and Intellectual History.

I was a co-convenor of the 2021 Cambridge Political Thought and Intellectual History Graduate Conference: 'Education and Educators in Political Thought'. 


Tags & Themes


Robinson College, Grange Road, Cambridge, CB3 9AN 


Key publications

'Robert Desgabets' Eucharistic Thought and the Theological Revision of Cartesianism' Intellectual History Review (forthcoming).