Vessela Valiavitcharska’s research explores the intersections of argumentation and style in Byzantine rhetorical theory and practice. Her book Rhetoric and Rhythm in Byzantium: The Sound of Persuasion (Cambridge University Press, 2014) offers a new look at a phenomenon known as “prose rhythm” in Byzantine and Old Church Slavic literature and argues for its rhetorical origins in both theory and practice. It demonstrates the importance of rhythm to argumentation and persuasion, suggesting also that rhythm can carry across linguistic boundaries. Along the way, the book challenges the entrenched separations between content and style, between prose and poetry, and emphasizes the role of rhythm as a tool for invention as well as a means of creating a shared emotional experience.
She is currently working on a new project which aims to articulate the ninth- to tenth-century Byzantine “philosophy” of rhetoric and language, which recognizes the close relationship between material medium and content, style and argument, and sound and image.
Her interests include classical and medieval rhetoric, Byzantine and Old Church Slavic literature, visual rhetoric and medieval art, the ekphrastic tradition, medieval scholia and rhetorical commentaries, rhetoric and poetics, and textual criticism. She teaches courses in the history of rhetoric and in medieval literature.
This book presents discussions by experts on all significant aspects of Byzantine Studies.
Rhetoric and Rhythm in Byzantium
Rhetoric and Rhythm in Byzantium takes a fresh look at rhetorical rhythm and its theory and practice, highlighting the close affinity between rhythm and argument.
“Figure, Argument, and Performance in the Byzantine Classroom.” R
Drawing on a long tradition of teaching rhetoric that extends back to the late antique and even Hellenistic periods, the Byzantine rhetorical commentaries offer a unique witness to a “syncretic” pedagogy.
Rhetoric in the Hands of the Byzantine Grammarian
From the Journal of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric.
“Correct Logos and Truth in Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen.”
Gorgias appears to be making a connection between truthful speech (alethes logos) and correct speech (orthos logos).