Laura Melin - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Laura Melin

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Laura Melin

PhD student

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17 Jan

The Art of Persuasion: Usurpation and Legitimisation in Fifteenth-Century Genealogical Rolls

Supervised by Dr Alixe Bovey

This dissertation will analyse genealogical rolls produced c. 1399-1509 for English kings and the nobility to determine how the imagery and text within them served to legitimise (or condemn) each king’s, or dynasty’s, reign. Through a consideration of the fifteenth-century dynasties as a sequential whole, this dissertation will move away from the current academic interest in providing comparatively isolated studies of the rolls produced for a single king or dynasty. This comprehensive study will allow for an examination of the ways in which the rolls created for each king drew both on earlier visual traditions, and from each other, whether by taking artistic inspiration, supplanting familial symbolism, or through reuse. By treating the rolls as objects of study in their own right, rather than simply as textual sources, I will be able to provide a greater insight into the increasingly public political society of the fifteenth century and how visual rhetoric in both royal and noble genealogies was used to navigate the challenges of deposition and restructured lineages. My chosen methodology is source-focused, concentrating first on the rolls themselves and branching out to provide context and iconographical comparisons where relevant.

Research Interests

  • Late medieval manuscripts
  • Genealogical and chronicle rolls
  • Late medieval English art
  • Form and function of manuscripts
  • Post-medieval histories of medieval manuscripts
  • Power and propaganda
  • Representation of power and political relationships in late medieval art
  • Usurpation and legitimisation in art

Conference Papers (2019-2020)

  • 02 July, 2019: “An Analysis of Text and Imagery in Oxford, Bodley Rolls 5”, International Medieval Congress, Leeds
  • 09 November, 2019: “Edward IV’s ‘Coronation Roll’ and its Audience, Home and Abroad”, Performing Power in the Premodern World, University of Warwick
  • 07 February, 2020: “Parchment and Aspects of Patronage in Fifteenth-Century England”, Working Materials and Materials at Work in Medieval Art and Architecture, Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Research Grants

  • November 2019-September 2020: £500 grant from Sam Fogg to institute the ‘Power Rangers’ Research Network, exploring the roles of art and visual rhetoric in the expression of medieval power.
  • Education

    2018-2021 – The Courtauld Institute of Art, PhD Student

    2017 – University of York, MA History of Art, “The Art of Legitimisation: The Coronation Roll of Edward IV”, supervised by Dr. Jeanne Neuchterlein

    2015 – University of St Andrews, BA Joint Honours in Mediaeval History and Art History

    Research Activity

    • Virtual Museum Exhibition Developer, University of St Andrews, 2015
    • Research Intern, Leuchars Parish Church, 2014-2015
    • Curatorial Research Intern, Dayton Art Institute, 2013.

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