2020-2021 Magic Projects

The Humanities Council is proud to announce the 2020-2021 awardees of David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Grants for innovation.

In addition to the grants below, Magic Grants can provide the initiating spark for new team-taught Breakthrough Seminars and for emerging efforts in collaborative humanities through the Humanities Council’s Global Initiatives.

New Projects in the Humanities

The Seminars of Jacques Derrida: An Online Archive
Katie Chenoweth (French and Italian)

This project will produce an online archive featuring the complete teaching materials of one of the 20th century’s most important thinkers. The digital archive, consisting of Derrida’s fully written-out lecture courses delivered at universities in Europe and the United States between 1960 and 2003, will provide open access to over forty years of previously unpublished writing.

Interrogating History: The Classical Black Theater Canon
Program in Theater (Lewis Center for the Arts)

Investigating lesser-known plays by Black writers, in the interests of expanding the classical canon, this project will engage students and professors across the disciplines in play readings and dynamic discussions with the theater makers of CLASSIX, led by Awoye Timpo. 

Computational Environmental History in Namibia
Emmanuel Kreike (History) and Tsering Shawa (Princeton School of Public and International Affairs)

The project will develop a spatial digital dataset for the computational history of an area in northern Namibia. Combining satellite and aerial photography, orthographic mapping, and experiments with 2D and 3D historical computer simulations, a transect of half a century of dynamic interaction between society and environment will be produced for analysis.  

Textual Materiality in Korea: Premodern to Postmodern 
Ksenia Chizhova (East Asian Studies)

Foregrounding textual materiality, this workshop offers an interdisciplinary, collaborative platform for scholars working on Korea-related topics. The workshop will result in a special issue, co-edited by the organizers of the Journal of Korean Studies.

Afro-Asian Connections in Latin America                                                 
Christina Lee (Spanish and Portuguese)

A Fall 2021 symposium on Afro-Asian Connections in Latin America will investigate national and religious identities in former Spanish and Portuguese colonies through concepts of mestizaje (racial mixing), focusing on personal and communal bonds forged between subjects of African and Asian descent from the mid­-nineteenth century onwards in Latin America.

Robotic Lacing
Stefana Parascho (Architecture) and Basile Baudez (Art and Archaeology)

Transposing the traditional craft of bobbin lacing into a robotic fabrication process, the project will not only automate the complex process of lace-making but also explore the design potential of a new lacing method and exploit its three-dimensionality for load-bearing applications. Ultimately, the developed technique will be implemented in a large-scale architectural prototype to test and showcase new applications for textile craft. 

Team-Teaching Grants

Language To Be Looked At
Joshua Kotin (English); Irene Small (Art and Archaeology)

This seminar focuses on the intersection of language and visual art in the twentieth-century. We begin by examining modernist and avant-garde experiments in word and image and then investigate the global rise of concrete and visual poetry and text-based art movements after World War II.

Ancient Plots, Modern Twists
Yelena Baraz (Classics); Jhumpa Lahiri (Creative Writing)

This team-taught capstone seminar will examine ancient plots as generative forces for new creative work. We will ask how ancient Greek and Roman plots are appropriated, reused, and reimagined by modern and contemporary writers.

Curricular Innovation

The Classics and Activism
Dan-El Padilla Peralta (Classics) and Brooke Holmes (Classics

This new graduate seminar will bring together two lines of inquiry not traditionally put in conversation: first, the history and practice of activism as a force for reconfiguring academic knowledge; second, primary texts from Greco-Roman antiquity. By introducing activists as seminar co-teachers and by disseminating the seminar beyond Princeton, the seminar aims to incubate new modes of practicing knowledge of “the classics” as a public good. 

Reckoning: Complicated Histories and Collective Identities
Tiffany C. Cain (Humanities Council; Anthropology; Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts)

Through field experiences in a Fall 2021, Anthropology and Humanistic Studies seminar students will grapple with violent pasts through investigations of the cultural media surrounding memorials, monuments, museums, and collaborative heritage.  

A History of Words: Technologies of Communication from Cuneiform to Coding
Melissa Reynolds (Humanities Council; History; Humanistic Studies; Society of Fellows)

The new course considers how we communicate–via inscription, graffito, letter, or blog post–affects the structures of our culture. Students will trace the evolution of written communication from ancient Sumeria to modern-day America. Through complementary “digital labs,” students will engage with primary sources representative of cultural shifts and develop criteria for analyzing digital archives.

Korean Language Learning in Virtual Environments: Exploring and Navigating the Metropolitan City of Seoul
Ho Jung Choi (East Asian Studies)

In a collaboration with Yonsei University in Seoul, a virtual reality pedagogy will be created for Princeton’s Korean language courses, using VR 360 video footages. A course-related break trip to Seoul will take place in Spring 2022.

Multi-Year Projects

Borobudur: A Research and Teaching Project for Faculty and Students
Jonathan Gold (Religion)

Integrating research and teaching around the famous Buddhist monument of Borobudur near Yogyakarta, Indonesia, this project supports Princeton faculty, graduate students and undergraduates in solidifying networks and developing research projects both at Princeton and in Southeast Asia. There will be a team-taught undergraduate course and conferences in Indonesia (Summer 2021) and Princeton (Fall 2021).

Past, Present, and Future of Incarceration
Matthew Larsen (Religion; Society of Fellows); Wendy Warren (History)

Expanding the history of incarceration beyond the prison-industrial complex, this project includes a team-taught courses in Humanistic Studies, “Incarceration in Roman Antiquity” (Fall 2019) and a new Carceral Studies reading group, culminating in an interdisciplinary conference.

Tang-Song Transition Workshop
Anna Shields (East Asian Studies)

In its third year, the workshop uses resources in Princeton University Art Museum, Marquand Library, and Gest Library to take an interdisciplinary approach an epochal shift in Chinese history, from China’s medieval to early modern period.

Piranesi on the Page
Carolyn Yerkes (Art and Archaeology)

Known as an artist, etcher, and architect, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) was also a maker of bound books. An exhibit in Firestone Library’s new galleries will demonstrate vividly how he combined his creative obsessions.

Other New Projects in the Humanities

In addition to Magic awards, the Humanities Council supports faculty projects through:

Co-Sponsorship and Special Grants

Exploratory Grants in Collaborative Humanities

Working Groups

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