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Patrick Seamus McGhee

Patrick Seamus McGhee

Department: History

Supervisor: Professor Alexandra Walsham

College: Corpus Christi

AHRC Subject Area: History

Title of Thesis: Heathenism in Post-Reformation England


I graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) degree in History from the University of Birmingham in 2014. The following year, I received an MPhil in Early Modern History with Distinction from the University of Cambridge.  I am an historian of atheism, unbelief and heathenism, particularly as these relate to religious culture in England in the early modern period from around 1500 to 1800. My research focuses on the religious and cultural shifts that took place following the English Reformation. My work explores the consequences of uncertainty and doubt for ministers and their congregations as they responded to numerous spiritual challenges. Among these was an awareness of non-Christian religions, belief systems and ways of living that contradicted European assumptions about the world, calling into question Christian notions of God, race, ancestry, history and time. This research has implications not only for the way in which we engage with religion and belief in the early modern period, but also for our understanding of selfhood and identity in a global context, as well as of the historically contested nature of time itself.  

Other academic interests

Besides my thesis, I study the history of science, religion and atheism in Romanticism and the Enlightenment, as well as magic, witchcraft and the supernatural in early modern Europe. I am also interested in the theory and practice of History, particularly as these relate to postmodernism and language. I enjoy English and American literature and poetry, as well as political writing. I am an editor and blogger for the ‘Doing History In Public’ Blog ( based at the University of Cambridge History Faculty.