Photo of Rod Phillips

Rod Phillips


Degrees:B.A. (Trent), M.A. (Otago, New Zealand), D.Phil. (University of Oxford, U.K.)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2824
Office:409 Paterson Hall

I started as a historian of the family, especially of marriage breakdown and divorce. My doctoral dissertation was on divorce during the French Revolution; in 1792, the Revolutionary government legalized divorce for the first time in France, and the court and other records provide early evidence of marriage stress and dissolution a good hundred years before the rise of mass divorce in Europe. I later worked on the history of divorce in New Zealand (where I was born and where I had my first teaching job). I then expanded my scope to the western world more broadly and researched divorce further in the U.K., Sweden, and Norway.

I still work a little on the history of the family, and I am editor of the Journal of Family History, the journal of record in the field.

In the late 1990s I turned to the history of wine. Wine has long been one of my passions, and writing its history seemed a logical thing to do.  After I began to teach a course at Carleton on the history of alcohol, I broadened my scope to cover alcoholic beverages generally. More recently, I combined my French and alcohol expertise to work on the history of French wine. In addition to writing monographs on these subjects I am the General Editor of a multi-volume work by 50 historians on the cultural history of alcohol.

Adding food to this mix, I am writing a history of food in the Atlantic world since 1000, and I am editor of a forthcoming volume on food in Early Modern Europe.

In addition to writing on the history of alcohol, I write on modern wine. I do a weekly wine column for the Ottawa Citizen, and I write wine features for NUVO Magazine (a luxury lifestyle quarterly) and specialist wine media, such as Vines Magazine (Canada) and The World of Fine Wine (UK).  I also judge in wine competitions in Canada, Europe, and elsewhere.

I am a student of wine in a formal sense, too: I’m registered in the Master of Wine (MW) program in the U.K. It’s a demanding program (fewer than 400 people have passed since it was founded in the 1950s) and it has reminded me of the challenges of being a student.

I’m open to supervising research in various fields: the French Revolution, the history of the family, and the history of food and drink.

Books published or in production

Family Breakdown in Late-Eighteenth-Century France: Divorces in Rouen, 1792-1803 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980)

Divorce in New Zealand (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1981)

Putting Asunder: A History of Divorce in Western Society (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988)

Untying the Knot: Divorce in Western Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991; various foreign-language editions)

Society, State, and Nation in Twentieth-Century Europe (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1995)

A Short History of Wine (London: Penguin Books, 2000; New York: HarperCollins, 2001; various foreign-language editions)

Ontario Wine Country (Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 2006)

Alcohol: A History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014; Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 2015; various foreign-language and international editions)

French Wine: A History (Berkeley: University of California Press, October 2016)

9000 Years of Wine: A Global History (Vancouver: Whitecap Books, Spring 2017)

The Wines of Canada (Oxford, UK: Infinite Ideas “Classic Wine Library,” forthcoming Fall 2017)

Books in preparation

[General Editor] A Cultural History of Alcohol (6 vols., London: Bloomsbury, scheduled for 2018)

[Editor] Early Modern Food (London: Routledge, 2018)

Food in the Atlantic World since 1000 (Cambridge: Polity Press, forthcoming)

Wine in History (Oxford: Infinite Ideas, scheduled for 2017)