Elisabeth (Lisa) Trischler

Elisabeth (Lisa) Trischler


My research project investigates how the representation of architectural space is employed and manipulated in Dante’s Commedia. Specifically, I apply art historical concepts related to spatial and architectural theory to the Commedia. My supervisors are Matthew Treherne (Head of School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, Professor of Italian Literature) and Emilia Jamroziak (Professor of Medieval Religious History, Director of the Institute for Medieval Studies).

My research questions are: 

1) How did Florentine citizens in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries experience and use architectural spaces? How can spatial theory, its construction and use inform our understanding of the poem in terms of community, selfhood and our relationship with creation?

2) How did liturgical and religious practices affect understandings and experiences of space in the medieval Italy during Dante's lifetime? Can interpreting the liturgical and religious references Dante makes and the spaces in which he makes them within the poem open up new readings of the text?

3) Through exploring the relationship between architecture and cosmology, city design/layout, cartography, diagrams, mnemonic devices, and meditation, I ask: how did the use and experience of architectural spaces influence Dante's pedagogical programme within the poem to convey meaning and generate contemplation in the reader?

University of Leeds, PhD                                                                                                          

  • Supervisors: Prof. Matthew Treherne and Prof. Emilia Jamroziak
  • Leeds International Doctoral Scholarship
  • Dissertation entitled: Dante's Commedia and the Pedagogical tool of Architectural Spaces
  • Expected completion date: October 2021

University of Leeds, MA with Distinction, Medieval Studies 

  • Tetley and Lupton Scholarship
  • School of History Scholarship
  • Dissertation entitled: Dante's Commedia and the Experience of Late-Medieval Architectural Space

University of Toronto, BA with High Honours, Major in English and Art History

  • Dean's List for three consecutive years
  • St. Michael's College Silver Medal Graduation Award
  • St. George's Society Award
  • The Kenneth Augustus Hemblen Memorial Award in Aegean Studies
  • Walter and Mary Tuohy Award in Arts and Science
  • St. Michael's College Award

Conferences and Workshops

  • Meaning, Memory and Movement: Ancient and Medieval Spaces, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK, November 2019, ‘Dante’s Florence and the Use of Architecture in Dante’s Commedia

  • Leeds Excellence in the Arts Programme Workshop, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, November 2019, skills workshop on ‘Critical Thinking and Incorporating Evidence’ for top-level third-year undergraduate

  • International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, July 2019, 'Urban Expansion and its Effects on Dante’s Commedia'

  • 5th NUME Cycle of Medieval Studies, Florence, ITL, June 2019, 'Alternative Readings on Dante's Procession in Earthly Paradise'

  • 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Michigan, USA, May 2019, 'A Case Study Considering the Connections between Religious Performance and Theology in the Commedia', Dante Society of America panel

  • Leeds Excellence in the Arts Programme Workshop, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, September 2018, skills workshop on Academic Organization for top-level third-year undergraduates

  • International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, July 2015 'Reflections on The Castle of Perseverance’s Stage Plan as a Medieval Concordance Diagram'

  • Out of the Margins Conference, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK, September 2015, 'The Castle of Perseverance’s Stage Plan as a Medieval Concordance Diagram'

Non Peer-Reviewed Publications

Research interests

My interest in Dante Aligheri began in a first year survey course where I was exposed to literature from the ancient world until the present day. I always wanted to merge the fields of art history and literature and medieval manuscripts was a great way to do this. While at UCL, during my third year of undergrad, I took part in the Warburg Institute’s workshop on Dante where a close reading of a single canto each week made Dante’s main arguments palpable. I volunteered for the workshop, assisting with the selection of manuscripts to display, discussion topics, and gave a lecture on Dante’s influence on nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. During the final year of my BA I took two graduate seminars on pilgrimage and diagrams. I became fascinated with memory practises within the medieval period and how people moved within space and their interpretation of it. Dante’s Commedia became my first attempt at testing theories of how art is described and mediated in literature.

My MA began by considering the labyrinthine structure of the text and some of the illuminated manuscripts associated with the Commedia. However, I soon moved away from this and began applying spatial and architectural theory to the text in order to understand how Dante moved within the spaces as well as the different architectural spaces he encountered. Dante employs contrasting examples of architecture as literary devices, such as the gate of Hell versus the gate of Purgatory, or the Cluniacs’ opulent sculptural programmes compared with the Cistercians’ plain spaces. By placing the same architectural form in both Hell and Paradise, Dante not only understands architecture’s ability to generate particular ideologies but also teaches the reader to interpret the physical form in order to understand the ideology being conveyed – providing learning tools for the poem and life. By exploring case studies of how the city and cloister influenced Dante’s pedagogy, I opened up new ways of thinking about the poem by considering how space itself was experienced and negotiated in the Commedia and how this was influenced by Dante’s own lived experience and understanding of space.

I am also interested in medieval plays, specifically The Castle of Perseverance as well as performance, religion, medieval practises of memory, and philosophy.