A list of my publications including books, articles, and book reviews.

 Orcid ID: 0000-0002-5789-7387

The Reformation of England’s Past is a study of the History of Christianity written by John Foxe in the 1560s and 1570s.

Professional Qualifications

  • Associated Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2018)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (PGCiLT). Module 1 (completed 2018)
  • Certified Member of the Association of Learning Technologists (CMALT) (2015)
  • PhD, University of Sheffield (2009)
  • Historical Studies MA, University of Hull (2004)
  • History BA 2.1 (hons), University of Hull (2003)

Dr Matthew Phillpott

Human history has been shaped in large part by our relationship and fascination with the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera). Beyond the obvious benefits of receiving a health-bearing sweetener called honey that can be used equally as food, medicine, and alcohol, and a sticky wax that, for centuries provided the only source of premium-quality light inside buildings, we have additionally associated the colony-mentality of the Honey Bee, with various political and moral guidance. We have imparted on them a vision of ourselves, perfected.

My research explores the moment when values around the Honey Bee began to alter, as new technologies were discovered and new understanding of the biology and culture of the Honey Bee emerged through scientific observation, study, and experimentation. Beekeeping, today, has been shaped by those events.

I believe that there is worth in understanding how we got here. History tells us the story of why it happened that way, and helps to inform our understanding of present practice and knowledge. Are we right in our assumptions? Is there still more to be learned, more to understand?  

As a historian, I am primarily concerned in understanding print culture and the history of intellectual endeavours in the early modern era, looking at areas such as the history of the book, early modern scholarly networks, food and husbandry, and the English Reformation.

As a learning technologist, I am interested in using the latest technology to tell these stories about our past relationship with the Honey Bee and to present them in a way that offers pedagogical benefit and enjoyment.

As a novice beekeeper, I hope to learn the craft for myself, experiment, and gain insights by practical application to inform my reading of beekeeping methodology in past times. As Edmund Southerne emphasised in his beekeeping handbook of 1593, the knowledge of writers and scholars can only take one so far in a practical skill. Experience is the key to understanding.

My background

I received my undergraduate and Masters degrees at the University of Hull in 2003 and 2004 respectively, and then received funding from the ARHC to complete a Ph.D. connected to the John Foxe Project at the University of Sheffield, which I completed in 2009. In 2010 I worked briefly on the HumBox data repository for teaching and learning materials, and then worked full-time at the Institute of Historical Research. There I created and managed the History SPOT website for postgraduate research training and events podcasts, before moving to the School of Advanced Study (SAS) in 2012 to work on the open access repository, research skills training for humanities postgraduates, and various other projects.

A History of Histories

My doctoral research was focused on identifying and examining the manuscript and printed sources used by the English cleric, John Foxe to compile the pre-reformation history in his Acts and Monuments (more popularly called the Book of Martyrs). This study was particularly focused on the idea that a series of collaborative networks were behind the compilation of the Acts and Monuments and that Archbishop Matthew Parker, in particular, provided many of the historical manuscripts, which Foxe used to revise the English past into a ‘Protestant’ shape for use in the Elizabethan reform of the church.

This work has now been transformed into a new book, published in 2018 by Routledge called The Reformation of England’s Past: John Foxe and the Revision of History in the Late Sixteenth Century. Here, I discuss in more detail the sources that Foxe and his colleagues used, and investigate the methodology employed to assess, analyse, and narrate a new story of English and Christian history, that better suited the present needs of reformation England.

Early Modern Bees

Whilst attending an event on Honey Bees as part of the first Being Human Festival of the Humanities in 2014, I was introduced to the small treatise on beekeeping that had been written in 1593 by Edmund Southerne. I became fascinated with this book, and soon discovered that he was not the first to provide ‘how-to’ knowledge about beekeeping.

From this starting point my interest grew into a study of ‘how-to’ manuals published between 1500-1700 that focused on, or included in some way, material on beekeeping. In 2018, I presented some of these findings at the Food History Seminar (Institute of Historical Research, London), and started a larger project of research, investigating references to Honey Bees in English early modern publications from 1470 to 1700.