Humanities Council Announces the 2018-19 Awardees for the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project Grants

July 9, 2018

The Humanities Council is pleased to announce awardees of the  David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project Grants for the academic year 2018-19.

The goal of the grants is to support ideas that break new ground intellectually and pedagogically and have the potential to change how the humanities are conceived and taught. The selection committee is attentive to interdisciplinary initiatives as well as to intellectual “nooks and crannies” that might not be well known to students and colleagues but are essential to the richness of the Princeton experience.

David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project Grants in the Humanities Council is made possible thanks to the generosity of Lynn Shostack, in memory of her husband, David A. Gardner ’69.

This year there are 15 projects ranging from team-taught workshops, research projects to undergraduate seminars and graduate enrichment courses. The awardees are as follows:

Eduardo Cadava, English

The Humanities Council’s Long-Term Visiting Belknap Fellow, Susan Meiselas, renowned photographer and storyteller in images, will team teach a course in the the Interdisciplinary PhD Program in the Humanities (IHUM), Alphabetographies with Eduardo Cadava.  Examining the roots of visuality and literacy, the course also considers collaborations between writers and photographers. Their Magic Project award will support enrichment of the course through class trips to regional photography exhibitions and visits to the course by photographers such as Jim Goldberg, Latoya Ruby Frazier, and Fazal Sheikh. The project culminates in a one day workshop that weaves together these exposures and discussions.


Michael Celia, Director, PEI and Civil and Environmental Engineering
Fazal Sheikh, photographer

Magic Project support will allow PEI Barron Visiting Professor Fazal Sheikh to convene on campus and in Utah Exposure: Utah and the Bears Ears Monument in spring 2019. Undergraduates will immerse themselves in a spring break trip in Utah. They will meet with policy makers and with individuals impacted, not least members of the Navajo nation, which communally holds the lands as sacred, while also contextualizing the role of extractive industries in the state. Events through the semester and a late spring conference will all shape publications, a web presence, and museum exhibition based on the project’s studies.


Katie Chenoweth, French and Italian

How to Read the Archive? Responses to Jacques Derrida’s Geschlecht III will use support to explore new methodologies for reading archival materials and creating dialogue across archival collections. Geschlecht III is a major archival discovery that offers a powerful deconstruction of nationalism via Jacques Derrida’s close reading of an essay by Martin Heidegger. Katie Chenoweth in the Department of French and Italian will gather scholars for a two-day conference (October 12-13, 2018), inviting them to respond to this recently unearthed text and to put it in dialogue with the philosopher’s personal library, housed at Princeton University Library.


Beatriz Colomina, Architecture

This unique project, beyond the usual limits of the School of Architecture, is a catalyst to transform teaching within the school. For 100 years, design pedagogy has adopted and responded to techniques developed at the Bauhaus. With Loosening the Bauhaus Professor Colomina will use Magic Project funds to generate new research at Princeton and play a leadership role in establishing a multi-disciplinary “Floating University” in Berlin in August 2018. Princeton will be one of four international university partners (HFBK (Hamburg), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Columbia, and Princeton) in a 4-day Werkstatt: Technik-Fortschritt, a workshop as an educational experiment that will develop critical positions regarding the Bauhaus legacy.


Jessica Delgado, Religion

Jessica Delgado (Religion) plans a two-and-a-half-day conference, Community Engagement, Educational Justice, and the Humanities, convening engaged university faculty, community organizers, activists, artists, innovators, and scholars in the fields of critical pedagogy and educational justice. Cognizant that effective community engagement is not just a matter of declaring and resourcing initiatives, but also of reaching out to make decisions defining priorities inclusively with off-campus partners, the meeting will privilege examination of practices and question whether institutional aims create paradoxes that may diminish the effectiveness of universities’ inclusionary and solidarity-building community work. Building on the conference, members of the Third Space collective of scholars and activists and invited community workers will reflect, discuss, and set out reconsidered plans for their educational justice and community engagement work.


Rachael DeLue, Art and Archaeology
Nathan Arrington, Art and Archaeology

Breaking new ground in Princeton’s  archaeology curriculum, the interdisciplinary Program in Humanistic Studies will bring the the first course in non-classical archaeological field research to its classroom. Led by Rachael DeLue and Nathan Arrington, The Battle of Princeton in Space and Time, will offer students the unique opportunity to participate in the archaeological investigation of the Princeton Battlefield, the site of conflict between American and British forces in early 1777. Students will be exposed to the cross-disciplinary methods that define current archaeological practice, from archival research to application of ground-penetrating radar. The course will also confront dialogues about Revolutionary War legacies, including how sites may be preserved or their memory may change with new uses.


Jonathan Gold, Religion
Elaine Pagels, Religion

Based in the Program in Humanistic Studies, a new, large, introductory  course, Jesus and Buddha, team taught by Jonathan Gold and Elaine Pagels, will expand the usual offerings in Princeton’s Department of Religion to offer, for the first time, a broad-ranging introductory course in comparative religion. Gold and Pagels bring mastery of the languages, texts, and scholarship of Buddhism and Christianity, respectively, to a thematically unified weekly session. The beliefs and observances of birth, death, ritual, and revelation, among several topics, in each tradition will be drawn into comparison through a space for conversation in the classroom to illuminate the humanity shared across cultures.


Wendy Heller, Music

The Department of Music will host a three-visit residency from renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel with Princeton University Concerts in the 2018-19 season. Magic Project funds will support Gustavo Dudamel at Princeton: Music Across Disciplines, activities that coalesce Dudamel’s interest in exploring music’s social, humanistic, and interdisciplinary relevance intimately connected to musical performance. Scheduled programs are, “Music & the Americas,” (December 2) “Art & Faith,” (January 8), “Art & Nature” (April 23) and “Art & Politics” (April 26-27). Post-concert multi-disciplinary panel discussions will explore the connections suggested by the programming. At the close of his residency Maestro Dudamel will conduct the Princeton University Orchestra and Glee Club in a program celebrating music’s relationship with literature,.  


Brian Herrera, Lewis Center for the Arts

Brian Herrera’s new course in the Program in Theater, Theater and Society Now, asks what contemporary American theater is and is not saying about the most urgent concerns of contemporary American society. With Magic Project funds students will see and do more, attending performances and venue-based discussions of some of the most intensive, engaged productions now on stage. Herrera will also use the resources to host leading theatermakers in class. Aiming to make students conversant in the social, economic, political, artistic and cultural structures that undergird how we see what we see on American stages of all kinds, the course will culminate with a late-semester “work demo” that reflects its synthesis of arts praxis, humanistic tools, and social impact.


Janet Kay, Society of Fellows and History

Janet Kay will use her Magic Project award to prepare a Freshman Seminar, Archaeology As History: Studying the Past by Digging in the Dirt. The course recruits students’ critical thinking skills by asking how practitioners of different techniques learn from each other, in this case how History learns from the interpretative practices of Archaeology. Kay and her students will work with specially prepared data collected from excavation archives of Roman sites in Oxfordshire. Kay worked with colleagues Kathleen Downey (Department of Anthropology, Ohio State University) and Rebecca Mountain (School of Anthropology, University of Arizona), who assessed and completed 3D-scans of the skeletal material. Using 3D-printed replicas of human skeletons and digital records of accompanying burial finds, members of Kay’s course will piece together an interpretation and ‘publish’ the burial. Students will encounter how STEM methods are integrated into archaeology and the questions facing working excavation teams prior to, during, and after fieldwork. As they work on their own interpretations, they will need to address how Historians work with these material remains.


Paize Keulemans, East Asian Studies

Second in renown among imperial structures to China’s Great Wall, its Grand Canal was arguably more important and undoubtedly more successful. Paize Keulemans will use Magic Project funds to sponsor a research project, Mapping the Empire’s Watery Ways: The Chinese Grand Canal in History, Literature, and Art, leading to a multi-disciplinary workshop dedicated to investigating the Grand Canal as a single “structure” crucial to Chinese history through the last two millennia. As a manifestation of interconnection and network, the Grand Canal will also act as a metaphor that addresses the legacy of monumental infrastructural investments as means of integration by the Chinese state over its history.


AnneMarie Luijendijk, Religion

This Magic Project grant will support course travel for Anne Marie Luijendijk’s Department of Religion course Antioch from the Seleucids to Late Antiquity. Concentrating on the city of Antioch, at the northeast corner of the Mediterranean, the trips will allow students to make a close study of objects in the collections of Dumbarton Oaks, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, in addition to Princeton’s resources. Students will create a virtual exhibit drawing together material remains from Antioch over three quarters of a millennium.


Susan Marshall, Lewis Center for the Arts
Sabine Kastner, Psychology
Naomi Leonard, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Brian Herrera,  Lewis Center for the Arts

How can we make environments that are inclusive and accessible for neuro-divergent individuals? The Magic Project will support Susan Marshall, Sabine Kastner, Naomi Leonard and Brian Herrera to form Dancing with and around Neurological Motor Challenges: An Interdisciplinary Working Group, which will approach these challenges. Concentrating on people with motor, attention and regulation dysfunction (e.g. autism, DCD), the group will gather perspectives from art, neurology, and engineering, and will include Princeton graduate students, professional dancers, neuro-divergent individuals and their advocates, and external consultant Henny Admoni.  Meetings, starting in summer 2018, will prepare for a conference in at the end of 2018 and subsequent follow up with applied artistic creation, scientific research, tool and system innovation.


Florent Masse, French and Italian

A Magic Project grant will support preparation of a new team-taught course, Others, in the Department of French and Italian and Humanistic Studies, taught by Florent Masse and Visiting Belknap Fellow in the Humanities Council, Pascal Rambert, an acclaimed playwright, director, choreographer, and impresario. Incorporating Rambert’s creative process into the course plan, students will work entirely in French to write, produce and, perform a Princeton-specific production of Rambert’s play, A [micro] history of world economics, danced.


Mitch McEwen, Architecture
Autumn M. Womack, English and African-American Studies
Nijah Cunningham, Society of Fellows,  African-American Studies and English

Magic Project funds will support the BiM Incubator of Architechnopoetics, a collaboration between faculty in Architecture and African-American Studies. Drawing together three preparatory workshops to produce a performance in the Architectural Laboratory, the project is led by V. Mitch McEwen, Autumn M. Womack, and Nijah Cunningham. What do the imaginative layers of the fiction of race, spatial determination, and architecture provide to the exploration of difference and the production of blackness? Assembling scholars, architects, technologists, hackers, artists, and students, the project will synthesize the technological and social, imaginative and robotic.


Sarah Rivett, English and American Studies

In 1970, Princeton University hosted the First Convocation of American Indian Scholars. It was a seminal gathering that accelerated American Indian Studies as a scholarly discipline in the United States. Sarah Rivett will use her Magic Project award to conduct Indigenous/Settler, a major two-day conference April 4-6, 2019 in the fields of American Indian, Indigenous and Settler Colonial studies. These interconnected areas of study are taking off in new directions framed by comparative, global, and interdisciplinary perspectives. The meeting will convene an inclusive slate of invitees, for a conference that aims to provide a platform for innovative discussions across the fields.


Anna M. ShieldsEast Asian Studies

Recently Princeton has gathered a strong cohort of scholars concentrating on “middle period” China (ca. 800-1400), a group among the strongest outside East Asia. With Magic Project support Anna M. Shields will convene The Workshop on Tang-Song Transitions in spring 2019. The Workshop will capitalize on faculty, graduate students, and extensive material resources in Princeton University Art Museum, Marquand Library, and Gest Library collections. The workshop will take an interdisciplinary approach to one of the eras of epochal shift in Chinese history, which saw change in many areas of life, effecting a shift from what historians deem China’s medieval to its early modern period. The group will follow up with a conference in spring 2021 and a summer 2021 workshop to produce a conference volume.


Gavin Steingo, Music

Sound studies examines media and society as an alternative account to the visual. This burgeoning field has grown rapidly in recent years, but considerable work remains to done to realize its potential. In his Sound Knowledges project, Gavin Steingo takes aim at these gaps. Magic Project funding will be used to develop a forum to foster cross-disciplinary investment in sonic knowledge. This will take the form of a yearlong  2018-19 series of talks, performances, and events, along with a 2019-20 workshop that will gather scholars and artists from Princeton and beyond. Steingo will also integrate elements of the project with his undergraduate and graduate teaching.

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