2020 Rapid Response Grants: Faculty and Research Staff Projects

Skyspace in Lech am Arlberg, Austria by James Turrell. Photo: Florian Holzherr

The Humanities Council is proud to announce the 2020 awardees of the Rapid Response David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Mini-Grants for innovation. Following a swift call for proposals, the grants will support 35 faculty and research staff from 26 different departments and programs across the University.


Performance and American Cultures: Summer Manuscript Intensive
Brian Herrera (Lewis Center for the Arts)

Six promising first-time book authors will virtually workshop their materials with three scholars who are leading figures in American Studies and Performance Studies.

Literature in the Time of Covid
Rebecca Rainof (English) and Tamsen Wolff (English)

This community-building initiative in the Department of English offers readings for a summer book club and technical training for student interns for a literary review/podcast. The podcast will feature pieces honed in a writing workshop for the Princeton University community.

The Pandemic Portal: Examining the Racial Dimensions of the COVID-19 Crisis
Ruha Benjamin (African American Studies)

Two additional members of a new research team of undergraduates and graduating seniors will support creation of a “Pandemic Portal,” analyzing public health reports, news coverage, and social media discourse to show how Black communities are affected by and responding to COVID-19.

The Public Transcriptions Project
Martha Sandweiss (History) and Gabriel Swift (Librarian for Academic Programs, Special Collections)

Five History graduate students will transcribe, edit, and annotate rare 19th-century manuscript materials from Special Collections touching on Western American History, Mormonism, the Civil War, and the American Colonization Society. They will then create short online exhibitions to provide context and transcriptions to other scholars online.

Virtual VizE Lab – Remote Ethnography + Data Visualization for Online Researchers
Jeffrey Himpele (Anthropology)

A graduate student research assistant will help create tutorials equipping ethnographers to conduct remote, online research—such as through Zoom interviews, interactive data visualizations, and mobile phone documentary footage—while barred from in-person fieldwork for the foreseeable future.

Pathologies of Difference: Mapping the Art of Colonial Medicine
Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Art and Archaeology, African American Studies)

A graduate research assistant will create a digital database that maps geographical intersections of colonialism, art, and medicine across the British Empire. Analysis of imagery in Australia, South Asia, and the Caribbean will produce new ways of grappling with archival material, perspectives on the creation and reception of medical knowledge, and means of dismantling the historical structures of racism and violence that continue to shape our present.

Tigers in Translation
Shawn Gonzalez (Writing Program)

Delving into the largely unexplored array of language backgrounds among Princeton undergraduates, this podcast will build community around language by sharing students’ stories about code switching, English as a Second Language classes, and other navigations of linguistic identity.

New Phase of “Shakespeare and Company Project”
Joshua Kotin (English)

A graduate student research assistant will coordinate feedback and questions from scholars around the world, developing a global and virtual conversation about the Shakespeare and Company bookshop of interwar Paris. The project helps prepare for a 2022 conference honoring the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which Shakespeare and Company published in 1922.

Imagining a Higher Education Career in African American Studies
Dannelle Gutarra Cordero (African American Studies)

Ten AAS-affiliated undergraduate research assistants will be invited to participate in Zoom summer workshops with the goal of preparing an article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal about higher education. Online panel discussions will support Princeton students aspiring to become advocates for underrepresented populations in academia.

Music in Language
Adele Goldberg (Psychology), Lisa Margulis (Music)

Exploring how music and language blend art and science, physics and psychology, logic and emotion in ways that are uniquely human, Princeton faculty and students will explore the role of rhythm in language processing. The grant will fund a graduate student research assistant and data collection.

Literary Visualizations: A Collaborative Project between the Princeton Dante Project and the Index of Medieval Art
Simone Marchesi (French and Italian), Pamela Patton (Art and Archaeology)

What would Dante’s late medieval contemporaries would have imagined in reading his Commedia? A new interface designed with the aid of graduate student research assistants will enable users to search for specific terms from Dante’s poetry, then see medieval images representing such ideas.

Freedoms/Liberdades: Storying Images of Slavery and Post-Abolition in Brazil
Miqueias H. Mugge (Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies), Isadora Moura Mota (History), João Biehl (Anthropology)

The grant supports research assistance and translation services for an interdisciplinary group of Princeton and Brazilian scholars analyzing visual materials on slavery in Brazil. An online symposium and website, in both Portuguese and English, will contextualize, assess, and interrogate the images.

Mapping Eastern Europe in the 13th–17th Centuries
Maria Alessia Rossi (Art and Archaeology) and Alice Isabella Sullivan (University of Michigan)

Serving Princeton University students and scholars as well as the wider public, a new digital and interactive platform will present a map of Eastern Europe alongside art historical case studies, historical overviews, short notices about ongoing research projects, and reviews of recent books and exhibitions.

Promoting Cross-Cultural Understanding through Exposure to (Online) Intercultural Spoken Interaction
Adriana Merino (Spanish and Portuguese)

This project will record and transcribe authentic, unscripted conversations among native Spanish speakers and Spanish learners of varying proficiencies, generating material for later listeners to develop their oral comprehension, conversational strategies, and intercultural communication.

Gas Exchanges and the Right to Breathe
Eduardo Cadava (English), Jonathan Aguirre (Spanish and Portuguese), Zulaikha Ayub (Architecture), Daniela Gandorfer (Comparative Literature)

Research assistants will support the inaugural investigation of the Loφ Lab, founded by Princeton University scholars to tackle challenges posed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Studying the historical, legal, socio-political, and scientific conditions that enable or prohibit breathing, the team will produce multimedia for the general public on topics like gendered and racialized inequalities surrounding air pollution, the choking of Eric Garner and George Floyd, and the extractivist history of artificial gases.

Sick Architecture
Beatriz Colomina (Architecture)

Working with e-flux architecture, a publishing platform, this project will equip nine Princeton graduate students to collaborate with international scholars and scientists, write short essays on the question of illnesses, pandemics, and architecture, and present their work to an international audience of 70,000 subscribers. Five invited scholars will also contribute.

Classical Music, Community, and Diversity: Chamber Music in the Age of COVID-19
Francine Kay (Music), Wendy Heller (Music)

Three live-streamed chamber music concerts will include scholarly videos, post-concert Zoom discussion for listeners, and invitations to submit creative reactions like drawings, poems, and dances for online circulation.

Beyond the Academy: Careers in Classics
Barbara Graziosi (Classics), Jermaine Bryant (Classics)

This project will fund consultation fees, graduate student assistance, and a comedic time-keeping prop for a series of video podcasts. The episodes will highlight the range, diversity, and excitement of career paths that build on higher degrees in classics but do not follow a standard tenure-track trajectory.

Increasing Access: Engaging Spanish-speaking Communities with Digital Museum Programming
James Steward (Art Museum)

The Princeton University Art Museum will launch a pilot program, in partnership with local community organizations and public officials, to support translation/captioning services and custom marketing to attract new Spanish-speaking audiences to Museum content.

Historical Micro-Docs
D. Graham Burnett (History)

A team of graduate students, faculty, undergraduates, and film artists will catalyze the development of a new genre of scholarly “work-product,” namely historical micro-documentaries lasting up to two minutes each, that will inspire further research by viewers, especially students accustomed to the brief visuals of the attention economy.

Human-Robot Interaction: Remote Communications for Accessible Architectural Robotics
Stefana Parascho (Architecture)

A graduate research assistant will work with faculty to develop software and an online instructional hub for architects to remotely operate robots that will help them design or build. By facilitating collaborations across campus and around the world, the project will make Princeton University one of the first American architecture schools to have a robust and accessible system of working with robotic arms.

Low-Latency Audio Hardware for Musicians: Allowing Real-Time Interaction in a Virtual Universe
Wendy Heller (Music)

This grant will support equipment for members of two performance groups, “Early Music” and “New Music,” allowing them to produce music together, in real time, while separated from one another, using a new low-latency audio system to minimize transmission delays.

resilient-distant-creative
Argyro Nicolaou (Hellenic Studies)

Bridging diverse Princetonians around the globe, this experiment will offer workshops on online tools for producing art. A subsequent research phase will culminate in a collaborative online performance on themes of resilience and distance, spotlighting experiences of migration and the global pandemic.

Global Painting Summer Group
Eve Aschheim (Lewis Center for the Arts)

An international group of Princeton University students and alumni from various class years will convene weekly for a painting workshop over Zoom, informed by discussions of place.

Fugitive Sounds
Rhae Lynn Barnes (History)

Student researchers trained in history and music will create a small database about a couple hundred enslaved musicians in antebellum America, and then recreate some of their songs using remote syncing programs. The team will present the research through scholarly channels, as well as perform the pieces for audiences in the Delta, encompassing descendants of enslaved musicians, locals, and visitors.

Global Digital Palaeography Workshop
Emmanuel Bourbouhakis (Classics, Hellenic Studies), David Jenkins (Librarian for Classics, Hellenic Studies, and Linguistics)

In this workshop, graduate students from around the world will intensively study Greek palaeography skills in order to plumb digitized medieval resources within the vast manuscript collections of the Vatican Library.

Launching the Philly Community Wireless Project
Grant Wythoff (Center for Digital Humanities), Devren Washington (Movement Alliance Project)

Disproportionate percentages of Black and Latinx Philadelphia residents lack access to the Internet, barring them from many services that have moved online during the pandemic. This grant will support student workers in building broadband networks, owned and operated by the communities of users.


Read about all of the Humanities Council’s Funding Opportunities.

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