Key research interests: history of Byzantine philosophy and science; transfer of knowledge; Byzantine epistolography; Byzantine rhetoric; history of scholarship; history of the book; Greek palaeography
My research is primarily focused on Byzantine intellectual history and, in particular, on the history of philosophy and science. My interest in Byzantine epistolography, however, led me to the study of Byzantine literature and prompted me to consider the literary aspects of texts concerned with ‘technical’ and ‘non-rhetorical’ subject matter. Thus, in my doctoral dissertation, I explored the interaction of rhetoric and science/philosophy in Palaiologan Byzantium and their joint role in the production of meaning and of knowledge. By re-evaluating the role and status of rhetoric, I reassessed also existing approaches to Byzantine philosophy. The dissertation explored letter-writing as friendship literature and problematized the employment of Aristotle’s theory of friendship in Byzantine epistolography, which prompted me to think about the relevance of the ‘philosophical letter’ category with respect to the Byzantine material. Letters, in turn, led me to their counterpart, namely, to dialogues and, based on a case study of Nikephoros Gregoras’ Philomathes and Phlorentios, I analyzed some of the ways in which the narrative structure of the Platonizing dialogue informed the philosophical knowledge the latter transmitted.
Philosophy and rhetoric
The integration and interplay of rhetoric and philosophy feature prominently also in my postdoctoral research. In 2014–15, I studied the understanding of causality as displayed in late Byzantine historiography. To this end, I focused on Gregoras’ Roman History and on the employment of Aristotelian and Ptolemaic notions of spontaneity, chance and fate and their interaction with the Christian doctrine of divine providence and free will.
At present, within my project as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie/POLONEZ 1 fellow (2016–2018) I am preparing for publication my dissertation monograph, provisionally entitled Polymathy and Intellectual Curiosity in Byzantine Discourses of Science and Philosophy (13th–15th Centuries). The book expands my doctoral research by examining how Byzantine learned texts discuss knowledge and the different attitudes to its acquisition they portray, such as intellectual curiosity, love for learning, and erudition.
I am also interested in cross-cultural comparisons within medieval Europe as demonstrated by my forthcoming parallel reading of Latin and Greek medieval philosophical epistolography for Brill’s Companion to Medieval Letters and Letter Writing and my contribution to the international conference The Medieval Self-Commentary: A Transnational Perspective at Fondation Hardt in 2014. Most recently, through my involvement in the Leverhulme-sponsored International Research Network Emotions through time: from antiquity to Byzantium, I have entered the field of emotion studies by exploring, in particular, affectivity (curiosity, amazement, wonder, and awe) in relation to the process of cognition.
The study of Byzantine manuscripts is another important aspect of my research. In 2012, I was awarded the Medieval Academy of America Etienne Gilson Dissertation Grant for the purpose of studying the main manuscript witnesses of Gregoras’ correspondence. In 2014, at the Bodleian Library, I examined the earliest manuscript containing Gregoras’ arithmological treatise On the Number Seven, a little-known text whose analysis I am currently preparing for publication. In May 2015, I studied a number of Gregoras’ autographs preserved in the Vatican Apostolic Library, while in 2016, I studied various manuscripts in the Romanian Academy of Sciences, the Centre for Slavo-Byzantine Studies “Prof. Ivan Dujčev”, and the National Library of Scotland. For my current project, I am examining late Byzantine educational miscellanies preserved in Polish and German libraries.
The translation of ancient and Byzantine sources and making them available to a wider audience is also an important aspect of my scholarly agenda. Already in 2008, I published a partial translation into Bulgarian of Prochoros Kydones’ On the Essence and the Energy, while in 2015, I co-authored the English translation of the letters of Theodore the Stoudite to Eirene the Patrician. I have recently submitted the English translation (co-authored with Paul Magdalino) with accompanying commentary of George Akropolites’ sole surviving letter for the Medieval Texts on Byzantine Art and Aesthetics project edited by Charles Barber and Foteini Spingou. Finally, I have started the preliminary work on an English translation of Nikephoros Gregoras’ correspondence, a project on which I am collaborating with Dr Alexander Riehle.