Research

 

Key research interests: history of Byzantine philosophy and science; 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 problematised 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 Gregoras’ Philomathes and Phlorentios, I analysed some of the ways in which the narrative structure of the Platonising dialogue informed the philosophical knowledge the latter transmitted.

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. I also started working on 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. Completing my dissertation monograph is also the main objective of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie-funded POLONEZ 1 fellowship I was awarded in June 2016.

The study of Byzantine manuscripts is another important aspect of my research. In 2012, I was awarded the Medieval Academy of America Etienne Gilson 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, New Europe College funded my one-month research stay in Rome where I studied a number of Gregoras’ autographs, 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.

In addition to my analysis of Gregoras’ On the Number Seven, at present, I am preparing for publication a paper entitled Self-Exegetical Reflections on Authority and Innovation in Nikephoros Gregoras’ Historia Rhomaïke, which was delivered at the international conference The Medieval Self-Commentary: A Transnational Perspective at Fondation Hardt in 2014. I am also working on a contribution entitled Are There ‘Philosophical Letters’ in Byzantium? A Comparative Reading of Nikephoros Gregoras’ and Nicholas of Autrecourt’s Letters for the Companion to Medieval Letters and Letter Writing to be published by Brill.

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 most recently, in 2015, I co-authored the English translation of the letters of Theodore the Stoudite to Eirene the Patrician. Currently, I am finishing an English translation 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.

 

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