• Bissera Pentcheva's Overview
        • Name:
          Bissera Pentcheva
        • Title:
          Associate Professor
        • Department:
          Art & Art History
        • Department Member:
        • Areas of Specialization:
          Byzantine and Medieval Art
        • Email:
        • Primary Phone:
        • Office Number (physical):
          110 Cummings Art Bldg.
        • Office Hours:
          T 5:15-6:00
        • Status News:



        • Research Areas:

          Phenomenology and aesthetics, architectural psychoacoustics, Byzantine chant, performance and ritual, medieval image theory, Iconoclasm, cult of the Mother of God.


          Collaborative project with Jonathan Abel (consulting professor at Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics) on aesthetics and acoustics of Hagia Sophia, http://iconsofsound.stanford.edu


          Onassis Seminar, Icons of Sound: Architecture, Acoustics and Ritual in Byzantium at Stanford University, AY 2013-2014. Meetings scheduled on select Mondays, 5:15-8:05, Cummings 103



          Co-organisor with Prof. Nemerov of an interdisciplinary workshop The Material Imagination: Sound, Space, and Human Consciousness,"  AY 2013-2014.  Meetings scheduled on select Fridays, 4-6pm at Cummings 103


        • Short Bio:

          Bissera Pentcheva's work focuses on Byzantium and the medieval Mediterranean, more specifically aesthetics and phenomenology. Her recent research on Hagia Sophia explores the interconnection among acoutsics, architecture, and liturgical rite. Pentcheva has published two books with Pennsylvania State University Press: Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium, 2006 that won the John Nicholas Brown prize form the Medieval Academy of America in 2010 and The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium, 2010.   She has held a number of prestigious fellowships among them: Mellon New Directions Fellowship for the study of Classical Arabic, Alexander von Humboldt (Germany), Onassis Foundation (Greece), Dumbarton Oaks, and Columbia University's Mellon Post-doctoral fellowship.  Her work has been published at the Art Bulletin, Gesta, and Res. Anthropology and Aesthetics.




        • Additional Information/ Links:

          Selected Publications

          The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010) www.thesensualicon.com

          “The Aesthetics of Landscape and Icon at Sinai” Res. Anthropology and Aesthetics, 2014 forthcoming.  

          "Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics," Gesta 50/2 (2011): 93–111. http://iconsofsound.stanford.edu/aesthetics.html

           "Moving Eyes: Surface and Shadow in the Byzantine Mixed-Media Relief Icon," Res. Anthropology and Aesthetics 53 (2009): 223-34.


          “The Performative Icon, The Art Bulletin 88/4 (2006): 631-55.


          Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006).































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The French Ambassadors of King Henry II at the court of the English King Henry VIII

Oil on canvas

Holbein, Hans the Younger (1497-1543)

Photo credit: Erich Lessing / Art Resource, NY

J'al des papillons noir tous les jours

Silk, paper, plexiglass, lights, electronics, 2800 bug pins

Gail Wight

Students shooting a project

Nesting Nautilus


Laser-cut plywood

John Edmark