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 philosophies and scholarly lives 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 hopes to evidence that all three figures viewed and advertised their philosophies as presenting a solution to a shared intellectual conundrum: how could Catholics navigate the complex socio-political and confessional demands of early modern society whilst ensuring their personal theological salvation? In treating my subjects' responses to this question and the distinct cultural contexts in which they composed them, I aim to develop understandings of the intellectual culture of early modern Catholicism; the seventeenth century 'Republic of Letters'; early modern notions of sociability; and the mobility and reception of recusant philosophers between and within England and continental Europe.

I am also interested more generally in the history of political thought and the treatment of theology in contemporary historiography.

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).

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


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Robinson College, Grange Road, Cambridge, CB3 9AN 


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