School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Katie East

Lecturer in History


I am a Lecturer in History with the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University, where I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow 2015-2018, and a Teaching Fellow in Early Modern History 2018-2019. I completed my PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2013, during which time I was supervised by Justin Champion and Jonathan Powell. This followed the completion of my BA in Ancient and Modern History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University, and the MLitt in Ancient History at St Andrews University. In 2014 I took up Fellowships at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies in Innsbruck, the Research Library in Gotha, and Fondation Hardt in Geneva. I have written on the influence of ancient thought and scholarship on the radical discourse of early modern England, and I am currently pursuing research into the transmission and influence of Cicero’s De Natura Deorum and De Divinatione in the religious debates of the English Enlightenment. 


As an intellectual historian, my research focusses on radical ideas in early modern England, with a particular interest in the intellectual legacy of the Roman Republic – as an historical exemplum, and as a source of political and religious ideas, – and in the history of scholarship. The exploitation of the editorial role in order to construct authority for a reading of Cicero which aligned his legacy with radical ideas is the subject of my first monograph – The Radicalization of Cicero: John Toland and Strategic Editing in the Early Enlightenment (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). This work relates the editorial plans and proposals of the subversive intellectual John Toland in his 1712 tract Cicero Illustratus, and demonstrates howw these tools were used to legitimise his representation of Cicero as a model for his republicanism and anticlericalism. By emphasising the active role played by antiquity in the subversive discourses which supposedly represented a central threat to traditional authority, my research contributes to the revision of narratives concerning both the origins of radical thought in the Enlightenment in England, and how that intellectual tradition developed.

Central to achieving this is another key theme of my research: the integration of the history of scholarship as a field of engagement. This relates primarily to the transmission and interpretation of texts, particularly classical works, in the early modern period, emphasising the need to reintroduce the editor (or translator, or commentator) into assessing the influence of texts on early modern discourse. It is in the scholarly engagement with such texts during their transmission that many of the intellectual transformations took place which facilitated their diverse use in articulating and legitimising radical ideas. Moreover, my work demonstrates that the discourse and scholarship were in a constant dialogue, shaping and influencing how each approached and represented their ideas. Building on the vital contributions of Anthony Grafton, my research is integrating the history of scholarship into the intellectual history of the period. This is a necessary strategy for fully understanding the complex process of knowledge formation in early modern intellectual culture.

I have also published articles examining the use of ancient thought, particularly that of Cicero, to formulate and articulate the radical ideologies of Pantheism, anticlericalism, and Freethought in early-eighteenth-century England. My Leverhulme project extended this research to examine how Cicero’s sceptical philosophy was understood and deployed by both orthodox and heterodox writers, exploring from the publication of Herbert of Cherbury’s De Veritate in London in 1645, to the publication of David Hume’s Dialogues concerning Natural Religion in 1779. The focus of this project is primarily on the use of Cicero’s De Natura Deorum and De Divinatione by Enlightenment writers, and consequently the transmission of these texts is also the subject of this inquiry. This research has led to the development of an ‘Early Modern Civil Religion’ reading group with colleagues at Newcastle and Sunderland Universities, encouraging investigation of this topic from a variety of perspectives, including how it related to its ancient forebears.


Office Hours Semester Two 2019/20:

Mondays 10-13 in Armstrong 1.27

Module Leader 2019/20:

HIS3342: Republicanism from Antiquity to Enlightenment

HIS2260: Rules of Engagement: the history of debating in early modern England

HIS8104: Ideas and Influences in British History

CLA1011: Intermediate Latin

Contributing Lecturer 2019/20:

HIS1044: Aspects of British History

HIS8098: Research Skills and Dissertation Training