Dr Abi Rowson

Dr Abi Rowson


I took my undergraduate degree in Philosophy at the University of Leeds, where I wrote a dissertation on Aristotle’s Poetics, his biology, and the metaphor of the female body. My interest in the intersections between philosophy and literature continued in my postgraduate work, where I considered, among other things, what poetry and fiction might offer moral reasoning, compared with analytical philosophy. My Master's dissertation focused on moral theory, in particular, Bernard Williams and contemporary Aristotelians. An interest in personhood -- the particular and the perspectival -- continued in my doctoral thesis and remains now in my post-doctoral research.

I was an AHRC-funded student on the Leeds-Warwick project, 'Dante and Late Medieval Florence: Theology in Poetry, Practice and Society' and my thesis was entitled 'Theologians as Persons in Dante's Commedia'.

Since November 2017 I have been Grant Support Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, where I provide strategic support and peer review to academic colleagues writing research grant applications, and contribute to the development of the School's Impact Case Studies for REF.

In 2019 I won the Modern Humanities Research Association Scholarship to fund the writing of my monograph, Beatrice’s Personalised Theology: Love and Error in Dante’s ‘Commedia’.

Research interests

My doctoral thesis examined the roles of four major theologians in Dante’s Commedia: Augustine (354-430), Gregory the Great (c. 540-604), Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), and asked what their appearances as persons in the poem can tell us about Dante’s conception of theology. Dante chooses to represent theology through a series of personal encounters with individuals and individual theologians: the project asked how he transforms or incorporates these perceptions in the Commedia. My claim is that the character of Beatrice should be understood as a theologian within the poem, even though her claim to such status relies not on an established historical authority—on written treatises, sermons, works or reputation—but purely on the nature of the particular person which Dante constructed in his poetic career.

My monograph, Beatrice’s Personalised Theology: Love and Error in Dante’s ‘Commedia’, continues my interest in Dante's construction of Beatrice as a person, and as a theologian, which began in my doctoral work, and focuses especially on the nature of particularity and persons.

I am currently planning my second monograph which has the working title Dante Among the Philosophers: Poetry as Knowledge. This is an interdisciplinary study which uses a new reading of the Commedia to develop an account of poetic knowledge as a distinct object of analysis. It engages with philosophical work from both Continental and Anglo-American traditions, in particular, Emmanuel Levinas, Stanley Cavell and Cora Diamond.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Italian Studies
  • MA (with Distinction) Philosophy
  • BA (Hons) Philosophy

Student education

I currently teach on the BA (Hons) English and Comparative Literature programme and have previously taught on a range of modules on the BA (Hons) Philosophy programme.

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Centre for Dante Studies
  • Italian
  • Literary studies
  • Medieval Studies