Professor Matthew Treherne

Professor Matthew Treherne


My research and teaching focus on medieval and Renaissance Italian culture. I have published on Dante and late medieval theology and religious culture; I am currently writing a book on how Dante might contribute to twenty-first century discussion of global issues including the ecological crisis and the role of finance and technology in society.

My approach to research is strongly collaborative and interdisciplinary, and aims to involve partners from outside, as well as across, academia.

Together with my colleagues Mark Davis (School of Sociology and Social Policy) and Rachel Muers (School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science), I am leading an interdisciplinary project, The Cultural Life of Money and Finance, which aims to explore how the arts and humanities can help shape debate on the future of finance. 

Academic Leadership

I have held a number of leadership roles at the University of Leeds, and am currently Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures. From 2014–19, I served as Head of the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, one of the largest and most diverse Schools of its kind in the United Kingdom.

I have also served as Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute (2010–13), and Director of the Faculty of Arts Graduate School (2010–12).

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.

Together with Jacob Blakesley and Lisa Trischler, I co-direct the Leeds Centre for Dante Studies. The Centre also runs a book-publishing project, in collaboration with Peter Lang, Leeds Studies on Dante.

Media and Podcasts

I have contributed to a number of radio programmes, including BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time (discussing Purgatory), and BBC Radio 5 Live (discussing the value of studying languages). In January 2021 I was lead expert on Purgatorio, for BBC Radio 4’s Dante 2021 series, hosted by Katya Adler.

I run the Leeds Dante Podcast, (available on platforms including Spotify) and in June 2020 I launched a series of interviews with researchers, Conversations on Dante, exploring recent work on Dante, his context, and his place in the cultures of the world.

I also co-curate the Cultural Life of Money and Finance podcast (also available on multiple platforms, including Spotify), and in 2021 I helped set up the Arts and Humanities Futures conversation and podcast series at the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute, featuring conversations with Leeds researchers and stakeholders on the future of arts and humanities research. 

Voluntary Service

I am a Programme Councillor at the RSA (Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), in a role which supports their impact programmes: these programmes include the Future of Work and Regenerative Futures; I am also a member of the Fellowship Council Leadership Group. I have served as a school governor and as trustee for a number of educational charities.

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
  • ‘Reading Time, Text and the World: Cantos 2’ in Vertical Readings in Dante’s ‘Comedy (ed. George Corbett and Heather Webb) (Cambridge, Open Book Publishers, 2017)
  • ‘Responses to Dante in the New Millennium’ (co-authored with Claire Honess) in Ethics, Politics and Justice in Dante (ed. Giulia Giamari and Catherine Keen) (London: UCL Press, 2020), pp. 167–85
  • ‘Introduction’ (co-authored with Claire Honess), Purgatorio, trans. by Stanley Lombardo (Cambridge, MA: Hackett Press), pp. 3–23 
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, as well as writing reviews for a number of journals.

Editorial work

I was assistant editor of Italian Studies (2005–08), and reviews co-editor of Renaissance Studies (2007–10). I am co-editor, together with Jacob Blakesley, of Leeds Studies on 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 (23 May and 31 November 2008)
  • National Workshop on Teaching Visual Arts; St Catharine's College, Cambridge, 23 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

  • Co-convenor of the Italian at Notre Dame Summer Seminar on Dante's Theology, held at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute, Jerusalem (June 2013)
  • Elected Member of the Executive Committee (representing Literary Studies) for the University Council of Modern Languages (2008–12)
  • Honorary Secretary of the Society for Italian Studies (2007–13)
  • Member of the Literary and Culture Special Interest Group at the HE Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies

Research supervision

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

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.

As Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute, I enjoyed seeing the many forms which impact can take, and I am delighted to be supporting the powerful impact activities of Leeds arts and humanities researchers through my current role as Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures. 

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.


  • Pro-Den for Research and Innovation
  • Co-Director, Leeds Centre for Dante Studies

Research interests

Dante and late-medieval religious culture

I have worked extensively on Dante and the religious culture of his time. My monograph, Dante’s “Commedia” and the Liturgical Imagination, will be published in 2020 by Peter Lang; I have also co-edited a number of volumes on Dante’s theology.

I was Principal Investigator of the major AHRC-funded project on Dante and Late Medieval Florence: Theology in Poetry, Practice and Society, which ran across the Universities of Leeds, Warwick and Notre Dame, and brought together an interdisciplinary team of seven researchers to examine the religious context of Florence in 1280–1300 and its relation to Dante’s work.

Dante for the Twenty-First Century: Ecology, Finance and Time

My current book project explores the ways in which Dante can be brought into dialogue with contemporary debates on global issues including the climate crisis, the financialisation of economic, social and civic life, and the ways in which technological and economic frameworks shape experiences and understanding of time.

Dante was writing at a time of profound social and economic upheaval: the relationship between human beings and the natural world was being re-imagined, both culturally and economically; and many of the building blocks of modern financialisation – including the growing role of credit in monetary supply; the shareholder economy; new approaches to risk; and the power and prominence of the financial sector – were put in place, and hotly debated.

In common with many twenty-first-century commentators, Dante felt that he was witnessing his society in a period of crisis; I aim to bring his analysis of that crisis into dialogue with contemporary discussion in sustainability studies, heterodox economics and financialisation studies, and technology ethics. 

The Cultural Life of Money and Finance

Together with my colleagues Mark Davis (School of Sociology and Social Policy) and Rachel Muers (School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science), I am leading a new interdisciplinary project, The Cultural Life of Money and Finance, which aims to explore how the arts and humanities can help shape debate on the future of finance.

This work is especially critical at the moment, as the Covid-19 pandemic is causing profound change in the global financial system, as innovation in financial practice continues apace, and as citizens, investors, NGOs and policymakers engage with the role of finance in tackling the climate crisis.

We are working with researchers across a wide range of disciplines in the arts and humanities, as well as engaging with scholars in behavioural economics, social sciences, finance and accounting, artificial intelligence, politics and international relations, and sustainability studies.

Through the University of Leeds Cultural Institute’s Creative Lab scheme, we have been able to build a collaboration with award-winning arts studio Invisible Flock to explore creative approaches to our key research questions. 

<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>


  • PhD in Italian Literature (University of Cambridge; 2007)
  • Diploma in Management Studies (Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, 2000)
  • M.Phil in European Literature (Distinction) (University of Cambridge, 1999)
  • BA in Modern and Medieval Languages (First-class) (University of Cambridge, 1997)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA)

Student education

I teach medieval and Renaissance Italian culture, as well as translation from Italian. 

I have received a number of awards for teaching: the University of Leeds Faculty of Arts Development Teaching Prize, for my work on teaching the visual arts; a University Teaching Fellowship developmental award, and a full University Teaching Fellowship award. My University Teaching Fellowship project was on the relationship between research and student employability.

I have also developed two major teaching resources: Analysing Paintings, which aims to introduce the techniques of art analysis; and Discover Dante, which I developed with Abigail Rowson (University of Leeds) and Vittorio Montemaggi (King’s College London). 

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Centre for Dante Studies
  • Italian
  • Literary studies
  • Centre for World Literatures

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>