Professor Matthew Treherne

Professor Matthew Treherne


I graduated in Italian and French from Cambridge University, where I later completed an MPhil in European Literature, and a Diploma in Management Studies. I went on to work in London as a business strategy consultant, and co-founded and co-managed a translation company. I returned to Cambridge in 2001 to do a PhD on liturgy in Dante and Tasso. I was a lecturer in Italian at Cambridge for the year 2004-05, before moving to Leeds in 2005. Dante and Tasso are the primary focus of my research, although I have also worked on the American novelist Toni Morrison, and pastoral drama. I recently completed a monograph  on Dante's use of the sacraments and liturgy in the Commedia.  I am the Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project, "Dante and Late Medieval Florence: Theology in Poetry, Practice and Society", which brings together a team of seven researchers in a collaboration across the Universities of Leeds, Warwick and Notre Dame. 

In 2007 I co-founded the Leeds Centre for Dante Studies with my colleague Claire Honess, with the aim of supporting research, teaching and public understanding of Dante. Building on our research activity, we also run a rich programme of activities for undergraduate and postgraduate students, and for the public. The Centre runs a book-publishing project, in collaboration with Peter Lang, Leeds Studies on Dante.

I have a strong teaching interest in the visual arts, and won the Faculty of Arts Development Teaching Prize in 2007 for my work in this area. In 2007 I received a University Teaching Fellowship developmental award, and in 2010 became a full University Teaching Fellow. My University Teaching Fellowship project was on the relationship between research and student employability.

In 2010-13, I was Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute (LHRI). This role gave me the opportunity to work with colleague across the humanities in developing research projects, and in fostering a lively and successful environment for research in the arts and humanities at Leeds. 

Research and selected publications


Articles and Book Chapters

  • 'Figuring In, Figuring Out: Narration and Negotiation in Toni Morrison's Jazz', Narrative, 11 (May 2003), 199-212
  • 'Ekphrasis and Eucharist: The Poetics of Seeing God's Art in Purgatorio X', The Italianist 26 (2) (2006), 177-95
  • 'Pictorial Space and Sacred Time: Tasso's Le lagrime della beata vergine and the Experience of Religious Art in the Counter-Reformation', Italian Studies 26 (1) (2007), 5-25; 
  • 'Dante', in The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies 2005 (London: Maney, 2007)
  • 'Dante', in The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies 2006 (co-authored with Vittorio Montemaggi) (London: Maney, 2008)
  • 'Dante', in The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies 2007 (co-authored with Vittorio Montemaggi) (London: Maney, 2009)
  • 'Dante', in The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies 2008 (co-authored with Vittorio Montemaggi) (London: Maney, 2010)
  • 'Dante', in The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies 2009 (co-authored with Vittorio Montemaggi) (London: Maney, 2011)
  • 'Problems of Pastoral Tragicomedy: Il pastor fido and its Early Critical Reception', in Early Modern Tragicomedy (eds Raphael Lyne and Subha Mukherji) (Rochester NY: Boydell and Brewer, 2007), pp. 28-42
  • 'Liturgy as a Mode of Theological Discourse in Tasso's Late Poetry', in Forms of Faith, pp. 233-54
  • 'Dante', in The Years Work in Modern Language Studies 2012 (co-authored with Vittorio Montemaggi and Ruth Chester)
  • 'Art and Nature Put to Scorn: On the Sacramental in the Purgatorio', in Art and Nature in Dante (ed. by Daragh O'Connell and Jennifer Petrie) (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013), pp. 187-210 
  • 'Inferno VII', in Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana: Inferno (eds Claudia Rossignoli and Robert Wilson) (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, forthcoming)
  • 'Dante', in The Years Work in Modern Language Studies 2012 (co-authored with Vittorio Montemaggi and Ruth Chester)
  • 'Reading Dante’s Heaven of the Fixed Stars (Paradiso xxii-xxvii): Declaration, Pleasure and Praise', in Se mai continga..., pp. 9-33 
  • 'La Commedia di Dante e l'immaginario liturgico', in Preghiera e Liturgia in Dante (ed. Giuseppe Ledda) (Ravenna, Longo, 2013), pp. 11-30

Study Guides

  • Dante, 'Purgatorio' (for University of London External Programme, 2006)
  • Dante, 'Inferno' (co-authored with Vittorio Montemaggi, for University of London External Programme, 2006)


I have written for the Times Literary Supplement on medieval and Renaissance Italian literature.

Editorial work

I was assistant editor of Italian Studies (2005-08), and reviews co-editor of Renaissance Studies (2007-10). I am co-editor of Leeds Studies in Dante, a book series published by Peter Lang.

Teaching Projects

  • Analysing Paintings: An Online Introduction to Formal Analysis
  • National Workshop on Teaching Medieval and Early-Modern Culture; Cambridge and Leeds (23rd May and 31st November 2008)
  • National Workshop on Teaching Visual Arts; St Catharine's College, Cambridge, 23rd November 2007
  • Faculty of Arts Cross-Disciplinary Podcasting Project
  • Leeds Dante Podcast
  • Student-led alumni relations programme for the School of Modern Languages and Cultures (funded by the Leeds for Life foundation)
  • Leeds Centre for Dante Studies National Essay Prize
  • Leeds Centre for Dante Studies National Study Days
  • Students as Scholars: research-led teaching project

Collaboration and organisation

Research supervision

I am able to supervise research on: Dante and medieval literature; Tasso and Renaissance literature.

Impact and Innovation

My interest in impact grew from a belief that my subject of late medieval and Renaissance Italian culture – which might seem to belong to the ivory towers – has the power to inspire people and help enrich the world we live in, and that humanities researchers should be confident in understanding the value of their research. Together with my colleague Claire Honess, I set up the Leeds Centre for Dante Studies, with the aim of carrying out outstanding research, bringing Dante to life for students in new and exciting ways, and taking our expertise and love of our subject outside the academy. Our work in impact began tentatively – creating podcasts, and running public lectures, for instance. Since then, our impact activities have grown considerably: our current major AHRC-funded project, for instance, has enabled us to work with faith groups and tourism bodies.

As Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute, I enjoyed seeing the many forms which impact can take. It was a privilege for me to work with Opera North, for example , through the University’s partnership with them; and I set up a project enabling arts and humanities post-graduate students to test out their research skills in the context of real problems faced by creative businesses.

I see impact as a wholly refreshing and invigorating part of my research. Working with partners and the public outside the academy challenges me to think differently, helps me to clarify what my important research questions really are, and reminds me why I love my subject.

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

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Centre for Dante Studies
  • Italian

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>