Dr Matthew Phillpott

Contact details

Dr Matthew Phillpott
SAS Digital Projects Manager/SAS-SPACE Manager
Institute of Historical Research
The School of Advanced Study (SAS) & Senate House Library (SHL), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Academic Support, Cultural memory, Digital resources, Digitisation, Early Modern, English Literature, History of the book, Manuscript studies, Medieval History
Research keywords:
history, book history, reformation, knowledge, beekeeping, early modern, learning technology
Summary of research interests and expertise:

Matt Phillpott works for the School of Advanced Study (SAS) and Senate House Library (SHL). He manages various websites, including PORT (online research skills tutorials), SAS-Space (open access repository), SAS Open Journals (open access articles), and Study Online (VLE). His role is to facilitate research within the School, Library and nationally as part of the School's national remit.

As a learning technologist, Matt provides support for staff to develop online learning content and develops, designs, and maintains various technology-enhanced learning (TEL) content for both student and staff training. As a certified member of the Association of Learning Technology, associate fellow of the HE Academy, and fellow of the Centre for Distance Education, Matt researches the use and impact of TEL in the humanities

Matt Previously worked for the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) on the History SPOT Podcasts and Online Research Training platform. Before joining the IHR, Matt completed his PhD at the University of Sheffield in 2009, and worked as a researcher for the digital John Foxe Project and as an assistant for the HumBox repository at the Humanities Research Institute. Matt has also taught on several undergraduate courses at Sheffield’s Department of History on medieval and early modern topics.

Matt’s current research interests include both History research and TEL research. He is about to embark on a project to research dissertation guidance at the postgraduate level and is examining questions around the accessibility agenda. Matt is also interested in ideas of knowledge transmission in the early modern period, both in terms of book history in the English Reformation and in terms of natural history (particularly knowledge of Bees and beekeeping) in the same period.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
26-Jun-2018 The Reformation of History: John Foxe and the Revision of History in the Late Sixteenth Century


This book is a detailed examination of the sources and protocols John Foxe used to justify the Reformation, and claim that the Church of Rome had fallen into the grip of Antichrist. The focus is on the pre-Lollard, medieval history in the first two editions of the Acts and Monuments. Comparison of the narrative that Foxe writes to the possible sources helps us to better understand what it was that Foxe was trying to do, and how he came to achieve his aims. A focus on sources also highlights the collaborative circle in which Foxe worked, recognizing the essential role of other scholars and clerics such as John Bale and Matthew Parker.

19-Nov-2016 A Sunday Ramble: walking literature as an urban mirror


 A paper read at the LAMAS Locla History Conference held at the Museum of London, 19 November 2016 with Jordan Landes (SHL) and Mark Merry (IHR)

01-Sep-2014 Oliver Wort, John Bale and Religious Conversion in Reformation England


01-Jan-2012 Review: Presenting History: Past and Present


Reviews in History, Book Review of Peter Beck, Presenting History: Past and Present, Reviews in History (2012, review no. 1251)

01-Jan-2011 Review: John Arden, Books of Bale [reveiw of the novels historical sources]


Reviews in History, Book Review comparing a historical fiction novel with its historical source material (Forthcoming, November, 2011).

In this case:

John Arden, Books of Bale (Methuen: London, 1988)

Peter Happé, John Bale (Twayne: New York, 1996)

Peter Happé, The Complete Plays of John Bale (D.S. Brewer: Cambridge, 1985)

01-Jan-2011 'Anglo-Norman and Plantagenet kingship in John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs', prefatory essays, John Foxe, Acts and Monuments [...], The Variorum Edition [online]


Matthew J. Phillpott, 'Anglo-Norman and Plantagenet kingship in John Foxe's Book of Martyrs', Prefatory Essays, John Foxe Acts and Monuments [...], The Variorum Edition v.2 [online] (Sheffield, July 2011)

01-Jan-2011 ‘The compilation of a sixteenth-century ecclesiastical history: the use of Matthew Paris in John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments’, The Medieval Chronicle VII

Journal articles

Matthew J. Phillpott, 'The compilation of a sixteenth-century ecclesiastical history: The use of Matthew Paris in John Foxe's Acts and Monuments', The Medieval Chronicle VII (2011)

01-Jan-2010 John Bale, John Foxe and the Reformation of the English Past

Journal articles

Mark Greengrass and Matthew J Phillpott, 'John Bale, John Foxe and the Reformation of the English Past', Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, 101 (2010), pp. 275-288.

01-Jan-2010 Review: Society in Early Modern England: The Vernacular Origins of Some Powerful Ideas by Phil Withington


Society in Early Modern England: The Vernacular Origins of Some Powerful Ideas
Phil Withington (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2010), ISBN: 9780745641300; 298pp.; Price: £16.99;
Matt PhillpottInstitute of Historical Research
Review no. 1011)

Date published: December 2010

01-Jan-2005 'A landscape study of the deserted medieval settlement of Arras, East Yorkshire'

Matthew Phillpott, 'A landscape study of the deserted medieval settlement of Arras, East Yorkshire', Medieval Settlement Research Group, Annual Report No. 20 (2005), pp. 31-33.

Publications available on SAS-space:

Date Details
Jul-2010 IHR Online Research Seminar Delivery Survey


This report analyses the responses to a survey undertaken in May-June 2010 to assess historians' attitudes to the podcasting of research seminars.

Existing services for online lectures and seminars - scoping report


This report examines the nature of existing provision of online lectures and seminars for historical research and teaching.

Nov-2011 Novel Approaches: from academic history to historical fiction - A Virtual Conference


The relationship between academic history and historical fiction is a subject of great interest to historians. Major academic conferences, for example the American Historical Association gathering last January and the Leeds Medieval Congress this July, have included papers and sessions on the subject, and they are proving among the most lively and well attended. There are numerous examples of historians who have successfully moved into the sphere of fiction, and conversely of authors whose fiction is underpinned by rigorous research. The large and growing public interest in history in Britain takes in both historical fact and historical fiction. And it is clear that many historians were at least in part inspired to pursue historical research by novels that they had read, or indeed are currently either planning to write or are writing their own works of fiction.

Publications available on SAS-space

Additional Publications

Professional Affiliations

Professional affiliations:

Name Activity
Centre for Distance Education distance learning, learning technologies research
Higher Education Academy Higher Education Teaching
Association for Learning Technology (CMALT) learning technology


Name Type Activity Start date End date
Social Scholar seminar co-convener seminar convener 01-Sep-2013 01-Jun-2018
Digital History seminar co-convener seminar convener 01-Sep-2012 01-Jun-2018
Food History seminar co-convener Seminar convener 01-Jan-2018
Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
01-Mar-2018 The profit of bees and honey: beekeeping manuals on the cusp of scientific study, 1568-1657

 Food History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research

08-Sep-2017 Revising the collective memory of Christendom: the impact of the Magdeburg Centuries in late sixteenth-century England

 Remembering the Reformation Conference, Cambridge.

05-Dec-2013 Tracing the reputation of Polydore Vergil: scholarly debates and cultural change during the English Reformation

Paper presented at the Society, Culture, and Belief in Early Modern England seminar run by the Institute of Historical Research. Polydore Vergil (c.1470-1555) was an Italian humanist scholar and historian active in the early part of the sixteenth-century. He spent much of his life in England during the early stages of the Reformation. His most important works were the De inventoribus rerum (a collection of thoughts about various questions ranging from origins to warm baths) and his English history the Anglica Historia. Vergil also published an edition of Gildas’ De excidio et conquest Brittaniae, which he had rediscovered during preparation of his own history. Immediately upon writing that history Vergil caused outcry as he disclaimed Britain’s origin stories and claimed Arthur and Merlin as nothing more than the fantasies of Geoffrey of Monmouth. John Prise and John Leland angrily refuted his claims and later Protestant reformers characterised him as the last in a line of Italian scholars who had stolen from and distorted English ecclesiastical history for their own ends. They even accused him of destroying books. Yet, the Anglica Historia was also praised and used as a good and useful history. Even the staunch Protestant reformer John Bale admitted that Vergil was a good scholar, if misdirected. In this paper I will be tracing references to Polydore Vergil and his publications in histories written after the 1520s to follow the ups and downs of his reputation in scholarly circles and, from there, into the wider public sphere. This is important as it tells us much about rising xenophobia against ‘the foreigner’ in Tudor England (specifically against Italians) and about the cultural perception of the English following the English reformation. It helps us to understand how those in charge attempted to use history as a tool of conversion partly by re-claiming their Christianity as non-Roman in origins, and by placing Italians as invaders and interlopers. The martyrologist John Foxe produced the clearest expression of this revised history and it is here where the clearest attack on Vergil’s character is made. When Polydore Vergil had first arrived in England he was welcomed as a celebrity partly because he was Italian. By the time he left, he was viewed with hostility as one amongst many foreigners no longer to be welcomed. Why did this happen and what role did histories, such as the one produced by Foxe, have in this change of perception?

26-Nov-2013 Blogging History: What are the uses of blogs in academic and archival settings?

Blogs are increasingly becoming important to academics who write about History and to the archives-sector who support that research. As a tool it is partly about promotion and advertising of an institution or department, but the form that advertising takes is often of scholarly merit, and is increasingly helping to open up the archives and mysteries of the research process.

11-Jul-2013 A best practice Blog: Academic, Archival and Library History blogging

Matthew Phillpott (SMKE scholar; IHR) presents his SMKE scholar's project at the AHRC Social Media Knowledge Exchange conference, 2-3 July 2013 at CRASSH, University of Cambridge: http://www.smke.org/

03-Jul-2013 Blogging For Historians

Presentation for the Social Media Knowledge Exchange conference.

05-Jul-2012 Ancient and Modern Martyrs: A Reformation reappraisal of Britain's Roman heritage as told by John Foxe

The Acts and Monuments,written by John Foxe in the late sixteenth century, is commonly recognised as primarily a martyrology that vividly details the persecution of English Protestants by the government of Queen Mary. However, the work is so much more than this; it is an ecclesiastical history that told a revised history of Christianity from Christ through to their own times. In this history the Pope was labelled as Antichrist and traditionally perceived heretics counted as members of the true faithful. Foxe chose many ways to establish his argument and to validate his claims one of which was to show the authenticity of the protestant church to have stretched back to Christ himself. In his second edition (published in 1570) Foxe devoted an entire chapter to the classical world seeking to show Roman culture, politics and religion through revised eyes. Foxe wished to receive the classical world as a purer time not yet disfigured by human and supernatural corruptions but one also plagued by persecution. For Foxe the true Christian church was a persecuted one as history had shown time and time again. Foxe achieved this aim largely through the eyes of Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263-339 AD) who had initiated the very form that Foxe wrote – the ecclesiastical history – but he also did so through the parallel researches carried out by other evangelical reformers such as the bibliophile John Bale and the German team of historians who compiled the Magdeburg Centuries. Those texts were written in Latin so Foxe’s vernacular work provided for the ordinary English people the only accessible means to reformist re-evaluation of the classical world. I will look at exactly what that interpretation was; how it related to the views of Foxe’s sixteenth century contemporaries; and how the classical world formed an essential role in Foxe’s understanding of the past and his conception for the present and future.

Knowledge transfer activities:

Blogging for Historians Workshop

An afternoon workshop offering theory & practical guidance to History postgraduate students wishing to develop a blog and/or online profile website.

The Space In-Between: Benefits & Challenges of Interdisciplinary Research

A one-day workshop offering postgraduate students and early career researchers the opportunity to learn from and discuss issues around interdsiplinary subjects, from various leading experts. 

An Introduction to Twitter

 Presentation about how to set up a twitter account and the language to use for academic tweeting. Presented as part of the Social Scholar seminar series.

An Introduction to writing Blog posts

 Suggestions for how researchers in the humanities might want to write blog posts, including suggestions on length, content, and structure. Presented as part of the Social Scholar seminar series. 

Managing your Research: from creating to sharing

Host and presenter at the History DMT training session, looking at how to improve data management at postgraduate level.

Histore Digital Tools - Introduction to the Project

A workshop about creating digital tools training online. Paper presented about the project.

Developing online research training and course delivery

Workshop: Developing online research training and course delivery

Date: 21 June 2011

Location: Wolfson Room, IHR

Time: 1pm-4pm

Organiser, host, and speaker at the workshop.

In a world where research projects are increasingly based around digital resources and technologies, historians can no longer ignore the potential that Online Research Training can provide for Higher Education teaching and for training of scholars, professionals and students. This workshop examines good practice for online training and reflects on both pedagogical issues and on technological benefits and limitations. In particular it focuses on the development by the IHR of the History SPOT platform (Seminar Podcasts and Online Training) which will soon be released as the Institute’s primary online platform for its Research Seminars and Training courses. The workshop also looks at the Open University’s recent development of an Online MA in History.

Consultancy & Media
Available for consultancy:
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