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 that brings classical antiquity into dialogue with contemporary issues with special focus on discourses of truth and approaches to privacy, autonomy, accountability, and participation in legal and political institutional practices. More specifically she examines confessional discourse in the Athenian law-court and in story telling before the genre of confession comes to be delineated as such; the relationship between torture, truth, and state power in Athenian democracy; conceptions and practices of surveillance, privacy, and individual rights in Athenian democracy and utopian polities.
Visvardi teaches primarily Greek drama and its reception, ancient aesthetics, gender and sexuality in antiquity, utopias/dystopias in Greek literature and across time in different genres and media, and Greek law. She also teaches Greek language on all levels.