© 2016

Space, Gender, and Memory in Middle English Romance

Architectures of Wonder in Melusine


Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Jan Shaw
    Pages 1-21
  3. Jan Shaw
    Pages 59-89
  4. Jan Shaw
    Pages 91-127
  5. Jan Shaw
    Pages 129-164
  6. Jan Shaw
    Pages 215-217
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 215-272

About this book


This book offers a much-needed consideration of Melusine within medieval and contemporary theories of space, memory, and gender. The Middle English Melusine offers a particularly rich source for such a study, as it presents the story of a powerful fairy/human woman who desires a full human life—and death—within a literary tradition that is more friendly to women’s agency than its continental counterparts. After establishing a “textual habitus of wonder,” Jan Shaw explores the tale in relation to a range of Middle English traditions including love and marriage, the spatial practices of women, the operation of individual and collective memory, and the legacies of patrimony. Melusine emerges as a complex figure, representing a multifaceted feminine subject that furthers our understanding of Middle English women’s sense of self in the world.


Medieval Middle English Romance Melusine Gender Studies Memory Studies antiquity Colonialism culture Europe gender history history of literature Imperialism literary theory literature memory Middle Ages social science sociology space

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishDepartment of EnglishSydneyAustralia

About the authors

Jan Shaw is Senior Lecturer of English at the University of Sydney, Australia. She has published on women in the romance of Medieval Britain, medievalism in contemporary literature by women, and narrative and gender approaches in leadership studies. She is also co-editor of Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches.

Bibliographic information


“The story of the beautiful fairy Mélusine who is cursed by her own mother to transform into a half-serpent once a week has fascinated readers for centuries. … Shaw’s analysis covers an impressive range of modern and medieval concepts … . Shaw’s work lays a good and highly promising foundation for future discussions about this text, and about feminine subjectivity in Middle English romance more broadly.” (Lydia Zeldenrust, Modern Language Review, Vol. 133 (2) April, 2018)