Professor Claire Honess

Professor Claire Honess

Dean of Postgraduate Research Studies

+44 (0)113 343 3631

Summary: As Dean of PGR Studies I have academic oversight of all research degree activity in the University. My research interests focus on medieval Italy, especially Dante.

Location: Michael Sadler B03

 Biography and current roles 

I am Dean of Postgraduate Research Studies for the University, with overall academic oversight of all our research degrees across all eight faculties.  In this role, I report to the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.  I chair the University's Graduate Board, and am a member of Senate.  I work closely with LUU on activities to help improve PGR representation and to enhance the PGR experience.  I am also concerned with improving PGR training, development, and careers advice in consultation with the relevant University authorities, including the Centre for Organisational Development and Professional Learning and the Careers Centre.  I can be contacted in relation to my Dean role on or by phone on 0113 3432808.

Prospective postgraduate researchers can find information about our research degrees here.

The Postgraduate Research and Operations website has relevant information for all current Leeds PGRs.

You can download my letter to all PGRs regarding the outcome of the EU referendum here.

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

I am also 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.

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 Chair of the Society for Italian Studies.

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

Teaching in 2016/17

 Level  Module

 Level 3

ITAL3010: Translation into English

Research supervision

I am able to supervise candidates working on Dante and medieval Italian literature, the reception of Dante in twentieth-century Italian authors, and Primo Levi.  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

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
  • ' “Ritornero 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

Other research activities

Leeds Centre for Dante Studies

Dante and Late Medieval Florence; Theology in Poetry, Practice and Society

The Italianist