The University of Cambridge Department of Slavonic Studies and CamCREES: Cambridge Committee for Russian and East European Studies are hosting a public lecture exploring the multi-sensory experience of faithful in Constantinople's Cathedral Church. Professor Bissera Pentcheva (Stanford University) will deliver a lecture on a sense of place 'Hagia Sophia: The Space in-between Heaven and Earth'. Drawing on art and architectural history, liturgy, musicology, and acoustics, this study explores the Byzantine paradigm of animation as manifested in Hagia Sophia, arguing that it emerges in the visual and sonic mirroring, in the chiastic structure of the psalmody, and in the prosody of the sung poetry. Together these elements orchestrate a multi-sensory experience that has the potential to destabilize the divide between real and oneiric, placing the faithful in a space in between terrestrial and celestial.
Bissera Pentcheva teaches medieval art at Stanford University. Her research focuses on animation, phenomenology, aesthetics, and acoustics. Her articles have appeared in the Art Bulletin, Gesta, and Dumbarton Oaks Papers and her monographs include:
Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium, Penn State Press 2006 and The Sensual Icon: Space Ritual and The Senses in Byzantium
Her third book, Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space, and Spirit in Byzantium, will appear with Penn State Press in 2017.
She is currently preparing an edited volume, Aural Architecture: Music, Acoustics and Ritual in Byzantium, Ashgate/Routledge 2017.