Dr Tania M. Colwell

BA, First Class Hons in History and French (Australian National University) and PhD (Australian National University)
Academic Fellow (Residential Experience) and Honorary Lecturer
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: + 61 2 6125 4788

Areas of expertise

  • European History (Excl. British, Classical Greek And Roman) 210307
  • British History 210305
  • Historical Studies 2103
  • Literature In French 200511
  • British And Irish Literature 200503

Research interests

  • 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
  • Late medieval crusades



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.


Researcher's projects

In progress

Reading Mélusine: Romance Manuscripts and their Audiences in Late Medieval Europe, 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 the Medieval World

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. For more information, see 'Beyond Wonder' project description link below.

Recently completed

Women and Work in Premodern Europe: Experiences, Relationships, Cultural Representation, c. 1100-1800, edited with Merridee L. Bailey and Julie Hotchin (publ. Routledge, 2018)

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.

Current student projects

2021 - Chris Grundy_Climate Events and the Peace of God movement (Associate Supervisor, MPHil panel)

2021 - Hannah Upton_Early Modern Women's Marginalia (Associate supervisor, PhD panel)

Past student projects

2021 - Katherine Tammaro_Infant Mortality in the Late Victorian Period (joint Hons supervisor with Dr Alex Cook)

2021 - Scott Dempsey, 'Historia Successorum Regum Britanniæ: A Study in Medieval and Early Modern English Historico-Legal Argument' (PhD associate supervisor)

2019 - Tobias Nevile, 'Captivated Audiences: Medieval Prisoners of War and their Cinematic Representation, c. 1944–2018’ (Hons supervisor)


Return to top

Updated:  02 March 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers