Professor Claire Honess

Professor Claire Honess


I am Professor of Italian Studies within the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies.  My primary research interest is in Dante studies, but I have also published on modern Italian literature and on the teaching of reading skills in Italian.  I teach medieval and modern Italian literature and translation into English.

I graduated in 1989 with a degree in Italian and French from the University of Reading. I went on to do a PhD on the image of the city in Dante's writing, and Dante is still my main area of research interest.  My book, From Florence to the Heavenly City: The Poetry of Citizenship in Dante, appeared in 2006; I have a continuing interest in medieval political poetry and, in particular, in the way in which Dante uses political ideas and imagery.  I translated four of Dante's Latin letters on political themes and I have an on-going interest in Dante's epistolary output.  I am a co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project, Dante and Late-Medieval Florence: Theology in Poetry, Practice and Society, and a Co-Director of the Leeds Centre for Dante Studies. I have spoken about Dante on BBC Radio 4's 'In Our Time' and 'Great Lives' programmes and on the BBC World Service programme 'The Forum'.

I have also written on modern Italian authors, most notably Elio Vittorini, and I have taught modules on Primo Levi and on the literature of the city of Trieste.   I am an editor of the journal The Italianist and was Chair of the Society for Italian Studies in the UK and Ireland from 2015 to 2018.

I taught at the University of Reading and at Royal Holloway, University of London, before coming to Leeds in August 2003.


Research interests

Selected publications


  • From Florence to the Heavenly City: The Poetry of Citizenship in Dante (Oxford: Legenda, 2006)


  • Dante Alighieri, Four Political Letters, translated with an introduction and commentary by Claire E. Honess (Critical Texts, vol. 6) (London: MHRA, 2007)

Edited volumes

  • Reviewing Dante's Theology, ed. by C. E. Honess & M. Treherne, 2 vols (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013)
  • 'Se mai continga...': Exile, Politics, and Theology in Dante, ed. by C. E. Honess and M. Treherne (Ravenna: Longo, 2013)
  • Dante in France, ed. by R. Goulbourne, C. E. Honess & M. Treherne (Pisa & Rome: Serra, 2013)
  • Donne delle minoranze: Le ebree e le protestanti d'Italia, ed. by C. E. Honess and V. R. Jones (Turin: Claudiana, 1999)

 Articles and Chapters

  • 'Communication and Participation in Dante's Commedia', in In amicizia: Essays in Honour of Giulio Lepschy, ed. by Z. G. Baranski and L. Pertile, Supplement to The Italianist, 17 (1997), 127-45
  • 'Feminine Virtues and Florentine Vices: Citizenship and Morality in Paradiso XV-XVII', in Dante and Government, ed. by J. R. Woodhouse (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), pp. 102-20
  • 'Dante and Political Poetry in the Vernacular', Journal of the Institute of Romance Studies, 6 (1998), 21-42; also in Dante and his Literary Precursors, edited by J. C. Barnes and J. Petrie (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), pp. 117-51
  • 'Learning to read: literary texts and ab initio students of Italian', in Prospettive sull'Italiano come lingua straniera, edited by A. L. Lepschy & A. R. Tamponi (Perugia: Guerra, 2005), pp. 161-64
  • 'Salus, venus, virtus: Poetry, politics and ethics from the De vulgari eloquentia to the Commedia', The Italianist, 27.ii (2007), 185-205
  • ' “Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile”: Henry VII and Dante’s Ideal of Peace’, The Italianist, 33 (2013), 482-502
  • ‘The Language(s) of Civic Invective in Dante: Rhetoric, Satire and Politics’, Italian Studies, 68 (2013), 157-85
  • ‘Dante and the Theology of Politics’, in Reviewing Dante's Theology, ed. by C. E. Honess & M. Treherne, 2 vols (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013), II, 157-85
  • ' “Ritornerò poeta...”: Florence, Exile and Hope’, in 'Se mai continga...': Exile, Politics, and Theology in Dante, ed. by C. E. Honess and M. Treherne (Ravenna: Longo, 2013), pp. 87-105
  • ‘ “Vedi nostra città: Dante, teologia e società’, in Le teologie di Dante, ed. by G. Ledda (Ravenna: Longo, 2015), pp. 59-80
  • ‘Divided City, Slavish Italy, Universal Empire: Inferno VI, Purgatorio  VI, Paradiso VI’, in Vertical Readings of Dante’s ‘Comedy’, ed. by G. Corbett & H. Webb (Cambridge: Open Book Publishing,  2016), pp. 119-42
  •  ‘Politics’ in The Cambridge Companion to Dante’s ‘Comedy’, edited by Z. G. Baraski & S. Gilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)

Research supervision

Current and previous research degrees supervised, include:

  • Tristan Kay (MA by Research): Dante and Occitan Poetry
  • Gemma Briggs (MA by Research & PhD): Metaphor in Primo Levi
  • Marianne O'Doherty (PhD): Images of India in the Medieval West
  • Kevin Marples (MA by Research and PhD): Dante's Virtuous Pagans; Dante and Prophecy
  • Abigail Rowson: Dante's Theologians
  • Serena Vandi: Dante and Gadda
  • Maddalena Moretti: Dante and Pasolini
  • Elisabeth Trischler, Dante and Architecture
  • Carmen Costanza, Dante and Liturgy


<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>


  • BA Italian & French (University of Reading)
  • PhD (University of Reading)

Professional memberships

  • Society for Italian Studies
  • Dante Society of America
  • Società dantesca italiana

Student education

I have taught on a wide range of topics in Italian language and culture, including language at all levels (including Master-level Italian-English translation), Primo Levi, the literature of Trieste, and medieval literature (including Petrarch and Boccaccio) as well as Dante.

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Centre for Dante Studies
  • Italian
  • Literary studies

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>