Bio


Bissera Pentcheva's work focuses on Byzantium and the medieval Mediterranean, more specifically aesthetics, phenomenology, and acoustics. Her most recent book Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space and Spirit in Byzantium (Penn State University Press 2017) explores the interconnection among acoutsics, architecture, and liturgical rite. She has also edited, Aural Architecture in Byzantium: Music, Acoustics and Ritual (Ashgate, 2017). Pentcheva has published another 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: J. S Guggenheim, American Academy of Rome, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, 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, Speculum, Gesta, and Res. Anthropology and Aesthetics, and Convivium.

Academic Appointments


  • Professor, Art & Art History
  • Professor (By courtesy), Classics

Administrative Appointments


  • Full Professor, Department of Art & Art History (2017 - Present)
  • Associate Professor by courtesy, Department of Classics, Stanford University (2010 - Present)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Art & Art History, Stanford University (2010 - 2017)
  • Mellon New Directions Fellowship, to study Classical Arabic, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2010 - 2012)
  • Assistant Professor by courtesy, Department of Classics, Stanford University (2009 - 2010)
  • Humboldt Research Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2005 - 2005)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Art History, Stanford University (2003 - 2009)
  • Post-Doctoral Mellon Fellowship, Columbia University (2001 - 2003)
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Onassis Foundation, Athens, Greece (2001 - 2002)
  • Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellowship, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. (2000 - 2001)
  • Norton Fellowship for Dissertation Research, Harvard University (1999 - 2000)

Honors & Awards


  • John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, Guggenheim Foundation (2018-2019)
  • Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2018-2019)
  • American Academy of Rome, American Academy of Rome (2017-2018)
  • Dean’s Award for Innovation in the Humanities, Stanford Center for Computer Research for Music and Acoustics (2010)
  • John Nicholas Brown Prize for Icons and Power as outstanding first monograph in Medieval Studies, Medieval academy (2010)
  • Richard E. Guggenheim Faculty Scholar, Stanford University (2007-2010)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Affiliate, Medieval Academy of America
  • Affiliate, Byzantine Studies Association of North America
  • Affiliate, Istanbul/Constantinople Project
  • Affiliate, Alexander von Humboldt Gesellschaft
  • Affiliate, College Art Association
  • Affiliate, International Center for Medieval Art
  • Affiliate, Zbornik Matize Srpske za likovne umetnosti
  • Member, Editorial Board, Serbian Journal of Art History
  • Peer-Reviewer, Res. Anthropology and Aesthetics
  • Peer-Reviewer, The Art Bulletin
  • Peer-Reviewer, Gesta
  • Peer-Reviewer, Dumbarton Oaks Papers
  • Director of Graduate Students, Dept. of Art History, Stanford University (2013 - 2014)
  • External Reviewer, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton (2013 - 2014)
  • Member, Advisory Board for the Center for East European and Eurasian Studies at Stanford (2013 - 2014)
  • Member, Dean's Committee for Islamic Studies (2012 - 2013)
  • Member, Advisory Board for the Abbasi Program of Islamic Studies at Stanford (2012 - 2013)
  • Internal Reviewer, Stanford Humanities Center (2011 - 2012)
  • Member, English Renaissance Literature Search Committee, English Dept., Stanford University (2011 - 2012)
  • Director of Graduate Students, Dept. of Art History, Stanford University (2010 - 2011)
  • Member, Dean's Committee for Islamic Studies (2009 - 2010)
  • Director of the Medieval Studies Program, Stanford University (2008 - 2009)
  • Member, Advisory Board for the Abbasi Program of Islamic Studies at Stanford (2008 - 2009)
  • Member, Acquisitions Committee, Cantor Arts Center (2008 - 2007)
  • Co-Director of Graduate Students, Stanford Department of Art & Art History (2006 - 2007)
  • Member, Executive Committee, Stanford Medieval Studies Program (2006 - 2007)
  • Member, Renaissance Faculty Search Committee, Stanford Department of Art & Art History (2006 - 2007)
  • Member, Curriculum Committee, Stanford University (2003 - 2005)
  • Internal Reviewer, Stanford Humanities Center (2003 - 2004)
  • Member, Renaissance Search Committee, Stanford University (2003 - 2004)
  • Member, Dissertation Colloquium, Columbia University (2001 - 2002)
  • Researcher, Byzantine Women and Their World, Sackler Museum, Harvard University (2000 - 2002)
  • Cataloguer, Visual Collection, Harvard University (1999 - 2000)
  • Member, Joint Faculty Library Committee, Harvard University (1997 - 1998)
  • Participant, Program in Roman Archaeology and Topography, American Academy in Rome (1997 - 1997)
  • Participant, Survey of the Middle Byzantine Settlement at Çanli Kilise, Aksaray, Turkey (1996 - 1996)
  • Member, Phi Beta Kappa Society (1995 - Present)
  • Curator, Student Art Work, Hollis Center, Dartmouth College (1994 - 1994)
  • Research Assistant, The Glory of Byzantium, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1994 - 1994)
  • Founder, Art Club of Dartmouth College (1993 - 1994)
  • Participant, Renaissance Art and Architecture, Dartmouth College, Study Abroad Program, Florence, Italy (1993 - 1993)
  • Participant, Italian Literature and Sienese Art, Dartmouth College, Language Study Program, Siena, Italy (1992 - 1992)

Professional Education


  • Ph.D., Harvard University, Medieval and Byzantine Art and Architecture (2001)
  • M.A., Harvard University, Medieval and Roman Art and Architecture (1998)
  • B.A., Dartmouth College, Art History (1995)

2020-21 Courses


Stanford Advisees


  • Doctoral Dissertation Reader (AC)
    Alexandria Brown-Hedjazi
  • Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
    Danny Smith, Maria Terss, Lora Webb

All Publications


  • Performative Images and Cosmic Sound in the Exultet Liturgy of Southern Italy SPECULUM-A JOURNAL OF MEDIEVAL STUDIES Pentcheva, B. V. 2020; 95 (2): 396–466

    View details for DOI 10.1086/708002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000526921700003

  • Optical and Acoustic Aura in the Medieval Image: The Golden Retable of the Pentecost at Stavelot MATERIAL RELIGION Pentcheva, B. 2020
  • Aural Architecture in Byzantium Music, Acoustics, and Ritual Introduction AURAL ARCHITECTURE IN BYZANTIUM: MUSIC, ACOUSTICS, AND RITUAL Pentcheva, B. V., Pentcheva, B. V. 2018: 1-+
  • Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space and Spirit in Byzantium Pentcheva, B. V. Pennsylvania State University Press. 2017
  • Performing the Sacred in Byzantium Image, breath and sound PERFORMANCE RESEARCH Pentcheva, B. V. 2014; 19 (3): 120-128
  • The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium Pentcheva, B. V. Pennsylvania State University Press. 2013
  • The Performance of Relics Symmeikta. Collection of Papers Dedicated to the 40th Anniversary of the Institute for Art History, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade Pentcheva, B. V. edited by Stevovic, I. Belgrade: Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. 2012: 55–71
  • The Miraculous Icon: Medium, Fantasy, and Presence The Cult of the Mother of God in Byzantium Pentcheva, B. V. edited by Cunningham, M., Brubaker, L. Aldershot: Ashgate. 2011
  • Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics GESTA-INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF MEDIEVAL ART Pentcheva, B. V. 2011; 50 (2): 93-111

    View details for DOI 10.2307/41550552

    View details for Web of Science ID 000209308400001

  • Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics Gesta Pentcheva, B. V. 2011; 50 (2): 93-111
  • Miriam's Dance: Poetry as Movement in Byzantine Culture Bild, Ding, Kunst Pentcheva, B. V. edited by Wolf, G., Muller Munich: Fink. 2011: 149–154
  • Space & Sound in Renaissance Venice: Architecture, Music and Acoustics The Art Bulletin Pentchev, B. V. 2011: 489-491
  • What is a Byzantine Icon? Constantinople versus Sinai The Byzantine World Pentcheva, B. V. edited by Stephenson, P. London, New York: Routledge. 2010: 265–283
  • Icone e pottere: La Madre di Dio a Bisanzio Pentcheva, B. V. Milan: Jaca Book Spa. 2010
  • The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium Pentcheva, B. V. Pennsylvania State University Press. 2010
  • Moving Eyes: Surface and Shadow in the Byzantine Mixed-Media Relief Icon Res. Anthropology and Aesthetics Pentcheva, B. V. 2009; 53: 223-234
  • Painting or Relief: The Ideal Icon in Iconophile Writing in Byzantium Zograf Pentcheva, B. V. 2007; 31: 7-13
  • Byzanz, der Westen und das 'wahre Kreuz.' Die Geschichte einer Reliquie und ihrer künstlerischen Fassung in Byzanz und im Abendland Speculum Pentcheva, B. V. 2007: 1007-1009
  • Epigrams on Icons Art and Text in Byzantine Culture Pentcheva, B. V. edited by James, L. New York/Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2007: 120–138
  • Räumliche und akustische Präsenz in byzantinischen Epigrammen: Der Fall der Limburger Staurothek Die kulturhistorische Bedeutung byzantinischer Epigramme Pentcheva, B. V. edited by Rhoby, A., Hörandne, W. Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. 2007: 75–83
  • Containers of Power: Eunuchs and Reliquaries in Byzantium Res. Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics Pentcheva, B. V. 2007; 51: 109-120
  • The performative icon ART BULLETIN Pentcheva, B. V. 2006; 88 (4): 631-?
  • Icons Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia Pentcheva, B. V. New York: Routledge. 2006
  • Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium Pentcheva, B. V. Pennsylvania State University Press. 2006
  • The 'Activated' Icon: The Hodegetria Procession and Mary's Eisodos Images of the Mother of God: Perceptions of the Theotokos in Byzantium Pentcheva, B. V. edited by Vassilaki, M. London: Ashgate. 2004: 195–207
  • Visual Textuality: The Logos as Pregnant Body and Building Res. Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics Pentcheva, B. V. 2004; 45: 225-248
  • Madonna, Orthodox History of Childhood Pentcheva, B. V. edited by Fess, P. S. New York: Macmillan Reference. 2003
  • Figure and Likeness. On the Limits of Representation in Byzantine Iconoclasm CAA Reviews. Pentchev, B. V. 2002
  • The Virgin of Constantinople: Power and Belief, Byzantine Women and Their World, Pentcheva, B. V. edited by Kalavrezou, I. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2002: 113–119
  • The supernatural protector of Constantinople: the Virgin and her icons in the tradition of the Avar siege BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES Pentcheva, B. V. 2002; 26: 2-41
  • Rhetorical Images of the Virgin: The Icon of the 'Usual Miracle' at the Blachernai Res. Journal for Anthropology and Aesthetics Pentcheva, B. V. 2000; 38: 34-55
  • Imagined Images: Visions of Salvation and Intercession on a Double-Sided Icon from Poganovo Dumbarton Oaks Papers Pentcheva, B. V. 2000; 54: 139-153