Eirene Visvardi works primarily on Greek drama and its role in ancient intellectual and political life. The questions that drive her work regard the nature and structure of the emotions and their motivational power; the relationship between individual and collective, especially in the context of democratic institutions; and the role of different aesthetic, discursive, and performative forms including theater and philosophy in shaping both the emotions and political dialogue. She discusses these issues in her book Emotion in Action: Thucydides and the Tragic Chorus
(Brill Mnemosyne Supplements 2015) in which she argues that the choral discourse of the emotions, especially pity and fear, suggests a variety of ways to experience, envision, and practice social and political participation and thus offers paradigms of affective participation to be taken outside the theater. She juxtaposes her analysis of choral discourse to Thucydides’ depiction of collective emotion and decision-making to show that both tragedy and historiography confront an issue that dominates Athenian public life: how to channel the motivational power of collective emotion into judicious action that contributes to collective prosperity.
She is currently working on a book on utopian and dystopian thinking where she moves from Greek epic, drama, and philosophy to Thomas More and modern theoretical work on utopianism. The working title is On the Verge of Utopia: Ancient Beginnings and Modern Ends of Utopian Visions. By tracing the beginning of utopian thinking and some of its fundamental concepts and recurrent preoccupations, her aim is to contribute to our understanding of the so-called utopian impulse in both psychological and political terms.
Visvardi teaches Greek drama and its reception, ancient aesthetics, and gender and sexuality in antiquity. She also teaches Greek on all levels.