Bissera Pentcheva

Ellen Andrews Wright Internal Fellow
Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University

Bissera Pentcheva has published three books with Pennsylvania State University Press: Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium, 2006 (received the Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America, 2010), The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium, 2010, and Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space and Spirit in Byzantium, 2017 (received the 2018 American Academy of Religion Award in excellence in historical studies). She has edited two volumes: Aural Architecture in Byzantium: Music, Acoustics, and Ritual, Ashgate 2018 and Icons of Sound: Architecture, Music and Imagination in Medieval Art, Routledge, 2020. Her work is informed by anthropology, music, and phenomenology, placing the attention on the changing appearance of objects and architectural spaces. She relies on film to capture this temporal animation stirred by candlelight. Another important strand of her work engages the sonic envelope of the visual--music and acoustics--and employs auralizations that digitally imprint the performance of chant with the acoustic signature of the specific interior for which it was composed. Pentcheva's research has been supported by a number of prestigious fellowships:  Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2018-2019), J. S. Guggenheim (2017-2018), American Academy in Rome (2017-2018), Mellon New Directions (2010-2012), Humboldt (2006-2009) and a Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellowship (2000-2001).

SHC Project

AudioVision in the Middle Ages: Music, Poetry, and Image

Publications and Projects

New Book-Exhibition Catalogue, 2023

AudioVision in the Middle Ages: Sainte-Foy at Conques

Research Project on Sainte-Foy at Conques

Pentcheva, Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space, and Spirit in Byzantium (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017), recipient of the 2018 Award in Excellence in Historical Studies from the American Academy of Religion

Aural Architecture in Byzantium: Music, Acoustics and Ritual, ed. Bissera V. Pentcheva (Routledge, 2017)

Icons of Sound: Voice, Architecture and Imagination in Medieval Art, edited by Bissera V. Pentcheva (Routledge, 2020)

Bissera Pentcheva

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