Lisa (Elisabeth) Trischler

Lisa (Elisabeth) 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: How was space experienced, thought about, and negotiated in the Commedia and to what extent was it influenced by medieval intellectual practises related to memory, spatial theory and spiritual development? How does spatial interpretation in Dante allow for alternative readings of the text?

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


  • International Medieval Congress, Leeds 2015
    • Paper entitled: Reflections on The Castle of Perseverance’s Stage Plan as a Medieval Concordance Diagram
  • Out of the Margins Conference, Cambridge, 2015
    • Paper entitled: The Castle of Perseverance’s Stage Plan as a Medieval Concordance Diagram

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.