Olivia Colquitt

Thesis title: Melusine: Magical Matriarchs, Enchanted Environments, and Legendary Lineage (working title)

Email: Olivia.Colquitt@liverpool.ac.uk

Previous Education

MA Medieval & Renaissance Literary Studies, Durham University, 2016-2017

BA English & French, University of Liverpool, 2012-2016


Professor Sarah Peverley

Professor Gillian Rudd

Dr Rebecca Dixon


North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (funded by the AHRC)




Research Summary

Olivia’s research focuses upon the socio-cultural significance of the late Middle English translations of the French prose romance Mélusine and its verse counterpart, Le Roman de Parthenay. The plot follows the titular protagonist, Melusine, a snake-tailed fairy, who founds the illustrious House of Lusignan. Her fluency in Middle French enables close textual analysis of the translations, highlighting differences which may be reflective of each unique historical context. Olivia’s analysis is also underpinned by ecocritical approaches to literature, allowing her to examine how cultural manifestations humankind’s multifaceted relationships with the environment reflect upon medieval conceptualisations of sovereignty and legitimacy. This will moreover shed light upon the role played by foundation myths and monstrous ancestry in the construction of dynastic identity in the medieval imaginary.

Olivia is delighted to have worked as a research assistant for Professor Sarah Peverley, as part of her Leverhulme Research Fellowship on the cultural development of the mermaid across time. This project complemented her studies, at the heart of which is the mythological mermaid-like figure of Melusine.

Research Interests

Medieval romance, the translation and transmission of medieval texts, manuscript culture, gender and sexuality, foundation myths and dynasty, motherhood and matrilineage, otherness, and monstrosity and the supernatural.

Recent Conference Papers & Talks

‘Bodies of Water: Mapping the Mother in Mélusine’, as part of a session series organised by Olivia Colquitt, Women and the Natural World in Medieval Literature, I-IV, International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, 1st-4th July 2019. (forthcoming)

Troubled Waters and Hidden Depths: The Aquatic Associations of Arthurian Women’, International Arthurian Society British Branch, Annual Meeting, University of Birmingham, 10th-12th September 2018.

‘Sacred Symbols, Snake-Women, and Sisterhood: Crafting Power in Medieval Origin Stories’, Durham Late Summer Lectures, Durham University, 22nd August 2018.

‘Psychosomatic Heredity: Forging Dynasty and Destiny through the Female Body in Mélusine’, The International Medieval Congress 2018, University of Leeds, 2nd-5th July 2018.

‘Better out than in? Gendered Spaces and the Experience of Exile in Melusine’, M6 Medieval Reading Group Symposium, 15th June 2018.

‘When the Scales Fall from Your Eyes: Exposing Bodies in the French Mélusine Romances’, Conference of the Late Antique and Medieval Postgraduate Society 2018, University of Edinburgh, 4th June 2018.


Colquitt, Olivia, ‘Melusine (Middle English versions)’, in The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 January 2018 <https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=37165>.


ENGL 111: Literature in Time