Tania Colwell

Tania Colwell

Position: Honorary Lecturer
School and/or Centres: School of History

Email: tania.colwell@anu.edu.au

Phone: 61254788

Location: HC Coombs Building, Room 2124


BA with Combined First Class Hons in History and French (Australian National University) PhD (Australian National University)

Researcher profile: https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/colwell-tm?term=colwell

I am a historian of late medieval and early modern Europe, specialising in the cultural and social history of France and England. I am interested in the ways cultural production, especially manuscript and early book culture, contributed to identity formation across the period. My interdisciplinary research explores a range of themes, including gender, patronage, politics, education, the marvellous and monstrous, crusades, emotions and intercultural encounter.

As well as researching and teaching in these areas, I have also been involved in public history in various forms, having worked on projects with the National Trust (UK), the National Museum of Australia, and the Department of the Senate.

  • Cultural, social, and political history of late medieval Europe, esp. France and England
  • Gender history of late medieval Europe
  • Manuscript, early book, and literary culture
  • History of emotions
  • Early encounters; travel narratives and ethnographies

Research Projects:

Reading Mélusine: Romance Manuscripts and their Audiences in Late Medieval France, c. 1380–1530

This book examines the historical reception and cultural significance of the popular Mélusine romances, ancestral tales of the Lusignan family which centre on a fairy-dragon and her crusading sons, from the dual perspectives of the French romance manuscripts and their audiences. By investigating the patronage, presentation, transmission, and ownership of the surviving corpus of over thirty manuscripts produced between c. 1380 and c. 1530, Reading Mélusine explains how and why the texts retained their hold on later medieval imaginations, and explores how the cultural values embedded in the romances facilitated their circulation across France and beyond.

Beyond Wonder: Emotions of Encounter in Jean le Long’s ‘Fleurs des histoires de l’Orient’

This project explores representations of emotions of encounter in a French collection of travel narratives and ethnographic texts produced between around 1300 and 1530. It examines shifts in the way emotions shaping experience of intercultural encounter were treated and understood and reflects on their implications for understandings of identity in and beyond France. Research for ‘Beyond Wonder’ has been supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and national and international competitive funding.

Women and Work in Premodern Europe: Experiences, Relationships, Cultural Representation, with Merridee L. Bailey and Julie Hotchin.

This collection investigates how the working lives of historical women were enacted and represented, and analyses the relationships that shaped women’s experiences of work across the European premodern period. By exploring the array of meanings attributed to work for and by women, this project re-evaluates concepts and experiences of work as sites of social, economic, and cultural production in which women’s identities were created and performed between 1100–1800.

In Progress


Reading Mélusine: Romance Manuscripts and their Audiences in Late Medieval France, c. 1380–1530

Articles and Book Chapters:

Tania M. Colwell, with Merridee L. Bailey and Julie Hotchin, 'Approaching Women and Work in Premodern Europe', in Women and Work in Premodern Europe: Experiences, Relationships, Cultural Representation, ed. by Merridee L. Bailey, Tania M. Colwell and Julie Hotchin (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018) pp. 1-29.

Tania M. Colwell, 'Melusines Past, Present, and Future', in Melusine's Footprint: Tracing the Legacy of a Medieval Myth, ed. by Misty Urban, Deva F. Kemmis, and Melissa Ridley Elmes (Leiden: Brill, 2017), pp: 388-403.

Tania M. Colwell, ‘Emotives and emotional regimes’, in Early Modern Emotions: An Introduction, ed. by Susan Broomhall (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017). pp. 7-10.


Edited collection

ed. with Merridee L. Bailey and Julie Hotchin, Women and Work in Premodern Europe: Experiences, Relationships and Cultural Representation (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018)

Tania M. Colwell, ed. with Christine Debono, Comparative Perspectives on Bills of Rights (Canberra: National Institute of Social Sciences and Law, ANU, 2004)

Articles and books chapters:

Tania M. Colwell, ‘The Middle English Melusine: Evidence for an Early Edition of the Prose Romance in the Bodleian Library’, Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History, vol. 17 (2014), 254–282

Tania M. Colwell, ‘Fragments of the Roman de Mélusine in the Upton House Bearsted Collection’, The Library: Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 7th ser., 13.3 (2012), 279–315

Tania M. Colwell, ‘Gesture, Emotion, and Humanity: Depictions of Mélusine in the Upton House Bearsted Fragments’, in The Inner Life of Women in Medieval Romance Literature: Grief, Guilt, and Hypocrisy, ed. by Jeff Rider and Jamie Friedman, New Middle Ages (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 101–27

Tania M. Colwell, ‘Patronage of the Poetic Mélusine Romance: Guillaume l’Archevêque’s Confrontation with Dynastic Crisis’, Journal of Medieval History, 37 (2011), 215–29

Tania M. Colwell, ’Mélusine: Ideal Mother or Inimitable Monster?’, in Love, Marriage, and Family Ties in the Later Middle Ages, ed. by Isabel Davis, Miriam Muller, and Sarah Rees–Jones, International Medieval Research, 11 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2003), pp. 181–203

Tania M. Colwell, ‘Robin Hood: The Archetypal Outlaw Hero’ in Outlawed! Rebels, Revolutionaries and Bushrangers Catalogue (Canberra: National Museum of Australia, 2003), pp. 24–29

Tania M. Colwell, 'Epilogue', in Matthew W Morris (ed.), A Critical Edition of Couldrette's Melusine or Le Roman De Parthenay (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003), pp. 341–344

Tania M. Colwell, ‘Medieval Masculinities: Transgressions and Transformations’, in Our Medieval Heritage: Essays in Honour of John Tillotson for his 60th birthday, ed. by Linda Rasmussen, Valerie Spear, and Dianne Tillotson (Cardiff: Merton Priory Press, 2002), pp. 137–56

Tania M. Colwell, ‘Why Richard III?’, The Ricardian, 12.151 (2000), 161–78


Magna Carta,  ABC, Radio National Big Ideas: discussion with Paul Barclay and Prof. Paul Pickering (ANU), June 2015


Scouloudi Foundation Publication Award (with Merridee L. Bailey and Julie Hotchin)


Australian Academy of the Humanities, Humanities Travelling Fellowship

ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Associate Investigator


Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature (Oxford), Travel Award


British Academy, Neil Ker Memorial Award

Australia and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literatures

HIST2219/6509: Tudor-Stuart England c. 1485–1714: Politics, Society, Culture (Sem. 1, 2017)

HIST2220: Medieval History, c. 1300–1500

HIST2243/6243: Vikings, Crusades, Mongols: Shaping Medieval Europe, c. 850–1300 (Sem. 2, 2017)

HIST8021: Readings in History – Specialist Topic Supervisor

Special Honours Seminar: History of Emotions in Premodern Europe, c. 1100–1800

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