The Humanities Council has awarded 2022 Flash Grants to 41 University faculty, staff, and students for 24 innovative projects designed to transform scholarship and community.
Funded by the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Grant, these awards will support Princeton humanities researchers as they experiment with new forms of collaboration and advance interdisciplinary ideas beyond the University.
These projects will explore a wide array of topics, including immersive filmmaking and public arts, literacy and translation, and cultural preservation. Scholars will uncover personal histories, create opportunities for academic exploration and creative expression, and investigate ways to address societal inequities.
Brief descriptions of the projects are below.
Faculty and Staff
Arriving in the Present: Transcultural Perspectives in Contemporary German-Speaking Contexts
Sara Poor (German) and Barbara Nagel (German)
A reading group will convene faculty and students from Princeton University, Rutgers University, and the University of Pennsylvania to discuss new works in the fastest growing area of German Studies, “Transnational Literature/Literature of (Post-)Migration.” Oriented toward diversity and globalization, the books will span the literary forms of novel, short story, drama, and theory.
Documentary Scene in a Puerto Rican Fishing Village
Hanna Garth (Anthropology) and Marisol Gómez-Mouakad (filmmaker)
Garth and Gómez-Mouakad will collaborate to create the first chapter of a documentary film on Puerto Rican fisherpeople and how they are navigating ongoing challenges, including the impact of natural disasters and the destruction of marine habitats amid beachfront property development.
V. Mitch McEwen (Architecture)
Graduate research assistants and a guest felt crafter will support the design and fabrication of prototypes of felted architecture. The results will contribute to an 8’ x 8’ outdoor shed that enables the study of organic materials as insulation and acoustic treatment. The School of Architecture will fund additional support.
Incorporating Ukrainian Cultural Heritage into the Index of Medieval Art Database: An International Collaboration
Maria Alessia Rossi (Art & Archaeology) and Pamela Patton (Art & Archaeology)
An international scholar, whose work has suffered because of the conflict in Ukraine, will add mosaics and paintings from the cathedral of St. Sophia in Kyiv, an important medieval monument, to the Index of Medieval Art database. Researchers will thus gain remote access to these images with their metadata. The Index of Medieval Art will fund a Princeton University student collaborator.
Literary Peru: Promoting Critical Citizenship Through Creative Reading and Writing
Daniela Salcedo Arnaiz (Spanish and Portuguese)
This pilot study will work with communities in Peru—Mullak’as-Misminay and Kacllaraccay—to create a mobile communal library and a writing space to promote creative reading and writing as a tool for social development by increasing access to literary materials, such as books and writing equipment. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese will fund travel and lodging for Salcedo Arnaiz.
Princeton’s Feral Books
Hannah Bradley (Anthropology)
This project, a collaboration between a postdoctoral fellow and an undergraduate research assistant, will conduct a mini-ethnography of unregulated books on campus, like those accumulating in the Chancellor Green Rotunda. The findings will be published in a paper zine, distributed during a walking tour of spaces where such volumes reside.
Erika Kiss (The University Center for Human Values, Comparative Literature), Chris Tully (Physics), Sigrid Adriaenssens (Civil and Environmental Engineering), and John Higgins (Geosciences)
Faculty will create an immersive 360-degree film, a Virtual Reality (VR) rendering of the time-travel sequence from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, to share with students and members of the community via headsets. This process will involve harnessing a portable full-dome tent and projectors.
The Trenton Project
D. Vance Smith (English) and Nyssa Chow (Lewis Center for the Arts, Humanities Council)
Collaborators will complete the start-up phase of building an art installation, featuring wall projections of images and films as well as echoing sounds, in an abandoned house and in a former community center in Trenton. The exhibit will spotlight the systemic neglect in places like Trenton yet celebrate the persistence of Trentonians. Princeton Arts Fellow Funds and others will support later phases of this project.
What is the Value of a Breath?
Eduardo Cadava (English), Jonathan C. Aguirre (Spanish and Portuguese), Zulaikha Ayub (Architecture), and Daniela Gandorfer (Northeastern University)
Exploring blockchain technology, the project investigates what it means to tokenize a breath, that is, to assign value to breathing, and render a single breath ownable.
“And Now Imagine!”: A Retreat Fostering Creative Expression Amongst Refugee Communities
Samin Rashidbeigi (Near Eastern Studies) and Lindsey Stephenson (Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies)
Princeton University activists and academics will collaborate to design a curriculum for a one-day, trauma-informed creative retreat. Through a partnership with the New Jersey-based nonprofit Interfaith RISE, they will host the daylong program with a small group of Afghan teenager refugees.
Bettine and Johann: Episodes from a Romantic Friendship
Dennis Schaefer (German)
A team will digitize, transcribe, translate, annotate, and introduce several letters, autographs, drawings, and score sheets from Bettine von Arnim—a German Romantic artist, author, and composer—held by the Morgan Library in New York City. Through this project, these objects will become available to the public online for the first time.
Blood Memory, Dance
Collin Riggins ’24
Riggins will explore the depths of his late great uncle, Luther Fontaine Riggins, Jr., who was a Broadway actor and dancer. The project will explore Luther’s life as a Black performer via audio, photography, and film, while bringing awareness to aspects of Black history and social forces more broadly.
Canvas Resource for Graduate Students Studying Near Eastern or Islamic Studies
Faiza Masood (Religion)
Masood, along with two graduate student collaborators, will create a platform for graduate students to share information, opportunities, and ideas related to Near Eastern or Islamic Studies.
Comprehensible and Accessible Pedagogical Resources for Ancient Greek and Latin Language Teaching at Princeton
Sherry Lee (Classics)
With the help of coursework at the Polis Institute in Rome and two undergraduate translators, Lee will develop more effective classical language teaching materials. These resources—including an Italian textbook about Ancient Greek translated into English and tiered text readers for Latin courses—will be made accessible to future instructors and students of Greek and Latin at Princeton.
The Contemporary Fairy Tale Project
Kate Clairmont (English)
This public humanities project will prepare four undergraduate researchers, under the guidance and supervision of Clairmont, to write original fairy tales on themes including those that have emerged during the pandemic era, such as navigating hardships. The stories will be made available this summer to the public online and via a separate mobile app, Readwell, which is being funded by the Keller Center.
The Dancer’s Health Initiative
Amaya Dressler ’25
Workshops and a symposium will support Princeton University student dancers in balancing the pursuit of professional dance careers with college, emphasizing the importance of mental health and physical wellbeing, as well as exploring teacher/student dynamics and creating a healthy studio environment.
Diversifying Early Music Performances and Pedagogy
Joyce Chen (Music)
New recordings will share songs from the 1500s to 1700s, composed or performed by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) musicians. In Princeton, undergraduate and graduate students will gain mentorship opportunities, while a workshop series will include performances by BIPOC musicians and a presentation on broadening curricula.
Documentary Experiments in New Jersey
Amadeus Harte (Anthropology)
Harte will work on a documentary film project about the history of radical queer activism since the historic 1969 Stonewall Riots, and the unlikely role played by a small church in Jersey City. The film will follow New Jersey native Donald Gallagher, who was at Stonewall, as he restores the church interior.
The Hare (A levre não dá entrevistas)
Oriele Benavides (Spanish and Portuguese) and Catarina Lins Oliveira (Spanish and Portuguese)
This project will launch a periodic literary and cultural magazine, sharing visuals and writing by graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. It will focus on topics relevant politically or aesthetically to Latin Americans, encouraging collaborative pieces in Spanish, Portuguese, or English.
The Hystera: A Space for Feminist Epistemologies
Darja Filippova (Comparative Literature), Ruo Jia (Columbia University), Liam Elliot (Music), and Marie de Testa (Architecture)
An outdoor multimedia art installation will provide spatial, tactile, aural, and cinematic opportunities to interact with writings by female mystics and saints, as well as films about pregnancy. Movie screenings and a reading group about the work of Luce Irigaray will further explore feminism.
Inter-University Working Group: Toward a Liberatory Pedagogy of Canonical Works: Case Study in Thomas Mann
Alexandra Dantzlerward (Comparative Literature), R.J. Bergmann (independent scholar), Dan-el Padilla Peralta (Classics), John Hoffmeyer (Yale University), Taylor Yoonji Kang (Yale University), and Ellie Maag (Allina Health)
The pursuit of freedom from structures of domination will guide this working group about Thomas Mann’s papers archived at Princeton University and Yale University. After the sessions, participants will seek to publish their findings in jointly authored articles.
Mengge Cao (Art & Archaeology), Shruti Sharma (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Michael Zhang (Art and Archaeology), and Haosen Ge (Politics)
Princeton University students, museum professionals, humanities scholars, and technical specialists will develop a participatory virtual art museum space. During the course of the project, members of the public will engage with the prototype and provide input for improvement.
Preserving Memory in the New Cold War
Julian Chehirian (History of Science)
Chehirian, with academic collaborators from London and Toronto, will create a public history sound installation, staged in Princeton and Philadelphia, that will share endangered oral history interviews of survivors of the Soviet-era forced labor camp system in Bulgaria.
Turkish-to-English Literary Translation & Methodology Project: Kopuk by Sine Ergün
Alika Zangieva (Near Eastern Studies) and Michael Battalia (Near Eastern Studies)
Zangieva and Battalia will translate a recently published Turkish novel by a renowned author and subsequently host a series of workshops about non-Western translation for undergraduates.