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Research at St Andrews

Felicity Perpetua Loughlin


Felicity Perpetua Loughlin
Postal address:
School of History (Scottish)
St Katharine's Lodge
The Scores
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 462885

Research overview

Research Interests

Felicity Loughlin joined St Andrews in September 2018, having been awarded her PhD from the University of Edinburgh earlier that year. Her research and teaching interests focus on the intellectual and cultural history of Scotland and Europe, c.1650–c.1850. She is especially interested in their turbulent histories of religious debate, the intersections between religious belief and the history of scholarship, and the significance of religious thought on understandings of the self, society, and the wider world.


Current Research: 

Religion and Unbelief after the Scottish Enlightenment, c. 1790–c.1843

Felicity Loughlin is currently researching the history of freethinking, heterodoxy and unbelief in early nineteenth-century Scotland. Christian commentators of this period frequently expressed their anxieties over the rise of ‘infidelity’. These concerns were fuelled by the dramatic events of the French Revolution, the sale of radical books, and the emergence of freethinking societies. What did ‘unbelief’mean for thinkers of the early nineteenth century? What was the relationship between learning and unbelief? And how far did the legacy of the Scottish Enlightenment shape the religious debates of the early nineteenth century? Her research forms part of the collaborative Leverhulme-funded project, After the Enlightenment: Scottish Intellectual Life, c.1790-c.1843:


Doctoral Research: Religion, Erudition, and Enlightenment: Histories of Paganism in Eighteenth-Century Scotland

Felicity Loughlin's thesis, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, explored the Scottish Enlightenment's fascination with the origins and progress of religion in human societies. It argued that the Scottish literati's distinctive conjectural histories of religion were deeply indebted to earlier traditions of erudite scholarship which examined the history of pagan religions. Adopting this wider perspective, her research offers new perspectives on some of the most definitive works of the age, including Hume's controverisal Natural History of Religion (1757). It shows that paganism mattered to eighteenth-century Scots because it was deemed to provide answers to hotly contested religious and philosophical debates. In doing so, it challenges the view that Europeans' investigations of non-Christian religions provoked an unequivocal religious crisis. She is working with OUP to publish her thesis as a monograph.



Edited Volume

F. Loughlin and A. Johnston (eds), Antiquity and Enlightenment Culture: New Approaches and Perspectives (Leiden: Brill, 2019). Forthcoming.

Articles & Chapters

‘The Study of Pagan Religions in Enlightenment Scotland: The Case of Thomas Blackwell (1701–1757)’, Records of the Scottish Church History Society 45 (2016), pp. 82–98.

‘Socrates and Religious Debate in the Scottish Enlightenment’, in C. Moore (ed.), Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Socrates (Leiden: Brill, 2019), pp. 658-81.

‘The Pagan Supernatural in the Scottish Enlightenment’, in M. McGill and J. Goodare (eds), The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Forthcoming.

'Ritual and Religion’, in C. P. Biggam and K. Wolf (eds), A Cultural History of Colour in the Age of Enlightenment (London: Bloomsbury). Forthcoming, 2021.


‘Ancients and Moderns in Europe: Comparative Perspectives, ed. P. Bullard and A. Tadié'Intellectual History Review 26 (2016), pp. 558–561.

'Reformation without End: Religion, Politics and the Past in post-Revolutionary England, by R. G. Ingram', Reading Religion (2019):

‘The Life of William Robertson: Minister, Historian, and Principal by J. Smitten', Records of the Scottish Church History Society 48.2, 197-99.

'Ghosts in Enlightenment Scotland, by Martha McGill', Scottish Historical Review. Forthcoming, Spring 2020.


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