Council Announces 2022-23 Grants for Innovation and Collaboration

June 15, 2022

The Humanities Council is pleased to award grants for innovation and collaboration to 28 projects led by more than 50 Princeton faculty and scholars from across 33 academic departments and programs in the academic year 2022-23.  

Eighteen David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Grants will support ideas that break new ground intellectually and pedagogically and have the potential to change how the humanities are conceived and taught.

This year’s Magic Projects explore a wide range of topics ranging from food and culture to environmental storytelling to architecture and translation. Projects include a symposium examining Toni Morrison’s archival practice, a data science institute for humanists, and the creation of a virtual walking tour of the Princeton University Art Museum. Grants will also support the development and enrichment – course travel, site visits, and guest lectures – for several new undergraduate courses and graduate seminars.

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

The Council has also awarded funding for four special grants, four Exploratory Grants in Collaborative Humanities, and two Global Initiatives. These grants support large-scale international research and teaching collaborations, and exploratory projects that aim to generate new research or teaching in emerging or underrepresented fields within the humanities.

Initiatives include a groundbreaking new multi-year project from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Princeton, which will foster knowledge production related to indigenous land, language, and art.

Brief descriptions of the projects are below.


  • Creative Ecologies
    Allison Carruth (American Studies, High Mountain Environmental Institute)

This grant will support the inaugural activities of an “Environmental Art and Media Lab,” which will foster art and storytelling experiments aimed at sparking new understanding of and solutions to the most pressing environmental crises of our present.

  • Dirty Books: Chemical Analysis of Stains on Papyri from Oxyrhynchus
    AnneMarie Luijendijk (Religion)

This project will chemically analyze – for the first time – the dirt accrued to Greco-Roman papyri in their lifespan to understand more fully how books in antiquity were handled and preserved, and how they were discarded.

  • Environmental History Lab (EHL) of the Program in Medieval Studies
    Helmut Reimitz (History, Program in Medieval Studies); Janet Kay (Art & Archaeology)

This three-year grant will enhance the Environmental History Lab (EHL), an initiative from the Program in Medieval Studies. The EHL will host seminars and undergraduate workshops, as well as related courses and activities that emphasize the importance of environmental history for understanding the medieval past.

  • Food Studies Forum
    Anne Cheng (English); Allison Carruth (American Studies, High Meadows Environmental Institute); Andrew Chignell (Religion, University Center for Human Values); Tessa L. Desmond (American Studies); Hanna Garth (Anthropology); Daniel Rubenstein (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology); Shamus Khan (Sociology, American Studies)

This project brings innovative and inspiring scholars, artists, activists, and thought leaders to explore, imagine, and think critically about food studies. This grant will support a constellation of events including guest speakers, a spring public lecture, and a farm-to-table dinner.

  • High-Water Mark
    Carolyn Rouse (Anthropology); Jeff Whetstone (Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts); Jeff Himpele (Anthropology)

This grant will support a series of guest lectures, which aim to introduce local New Jersey preservationists and community leaders to exceptional scholars, artists, and architects, and provide a new vocabulary and way of thinking about change and preservation. 

  • Humanities + Data Science Summer Institute
    Meredith Martin (English, Center for Digital Humanities)

The Humanities + Data Science Summer Institute, run by the Center for Digital Humanities, will empower scholars from the humanities and humanities-adjacent social sciences to engage with the conceptual, practical, and ethical aspects of data science.

  • Sick Architecture
    Beatriz Colomina (Architecture)

This collaborative project, which allows graduate students to investigate a wide range of intersections between medicine and architecture, was developed from an ongoing interdisciplinary seminar. This grant will support expanded research exhibitions in Princeton and at the Centre International pour la Ville, l’Architecture et le Paysage (CIVA) in Brussels.

  • Sites of Memory: Practice, Performance, Perception
    Autumn Womack (African American Studies, English); Kinohi Nishikawa (English, African American Studies)

This interdisciplinary symposium will examine the method and meaning of Toni Morrison’s archival practice in relation to her writing, teaching, and public intellectual work. The symposium complements the Spring 2023 Princeton University Library exhibition, “Sites of Memory: The Archival World of Toni Morrison.”

  • Technology Infrastructure to Broaden Museum Accessibility and Engagement
    James Steward (Princeton University Art Museum)

This grant will support the development of “VirtualWalk,” a web-based 360-degree virtual tour of the Princeton University Art Museum that provides off-site users with a full view of installations, and contributing to the Museum’s commitment to openness, connectivity, and accessibility. 


  • Counterworlds: Innovation and Rupture in Communities of Artistic Practice
    Brigid Doherty (German, Art & Archaeology); Josephine Meckseper (Humanities Council, Art & Archaeology)

This Fall 2022 course explores utopian and dystopian ideas and the dynamics of creative collaboration. The grant will support course enhancements, including seminars from distinguished guests, materials for a potential student exhibition, and studio visits to New York City.

  • The French Revolution: Political Theory and Culture
    Flora Champy (French and Italian); Greg Conti (Politics)

This grant supports the development of a Summer 2022 intensive, study-abroad, interdisciplinary course taught in Paris which will introduce undergraduates to the ideas at the core of the French Revolution. The course will be innovative in its cross-disciplinary nature, associating methods from the humanities and political science to grasp a watershed moment of modernity.

  • Historical Structures: ancient architecture, materials, construction techniques, and engineering problems
    Michael Koortbojian (Art & Archaeology); Branko Glisic (Civil Engineering)

In this new HUM course “Historical Structures: ancient architecture, materials, construction techniques, and engineering problems,” students will explore the intersection of Art and Archaeology and Civil Engineering. This grant supports a fall break trip to Rome for students to study monuments in person. 

  • Land and Story in Native America
    Tessa L. Desmond (American Studies); Sarah Rivett (English, American Studies)

This Spring 2023 AMS course will explore the relationship between land and story, emphasizing seeds as sources of sovereignty and repositories of knowledge across generations. The course will invite guest speakers, and work directly with the Munsee Three Sisters Farm and other community partners, as well as conduct archival research on seeds for Princeton’s Seed Farm.

  • Making the Viking Age
    Matthew Delvaux (History)

This grant will support an interdisciplinary Humanistic Studies course, “Making the Viking World,” in Spring 2023. Students will examine the developments of the Viking Age, ca. 700–1100, through a combination of experimental, experiential, and hands-on learning, including a spring break course trip to Denmark.

  • Musical Theatre and Fan Cultures
    Stacy Wolf (Theater, American Studies); Betsy Armstrong (Sociology, SPIA)

Why do people love Broadway musicals? This Fall 2022 team-taught HUM course “Musical Theatre and Fan Cultures” examines the wider phenomenon of fan culture. This grant supports course enrichment, including guest lectures and course travel to form the experiential and intellectual backbone of the seminar.

  • Musical Theater and Storytelling in Italy
    Stacy Wolf (Theater, American Studies); Cara Reichel (’96); Peter Mills (‘95)

This grant will enrich the PIIRS Global Seminar “Musical Theater and Storytelling in Southern Italy,” where students will study history, culture and language in Gesualdo, Italy, in Summer 2022. This includes a student collaboration with professional artists from New York City and the Irpinia region of Italy.

  • Poetry and War: Translating the Untranslatable
    Sandra L. Bermann (Comparative Literature)

Through a two-year research project, an online conference, and a Spring 2023 course in Humanistic Studies, “Poetry and War: Translating the Untranslatable” featuring a spring break trip to France, this Magic Grant supports interdisciplinary teaching and research to enhance understanding of the French Resistance through poetry and translation. 

  • Siegecraft: Architecture, Warfare, and Media
    Carolyn Yerkes (Art & Archaeology)

This grant supports a symposium or lecture series as well as a new Spring 2023 ART undergraduate course entitled “Siegecraft: Architecture, Warfare, and Media,” which will consider the ways that early modern media represented, responded to, and reshaped the narratives surrounding the art of siegecraft.


  • Elasticities
    Martha Friedman (Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts); Brooke Holmes (Classics)

The Eberhard L. Faber 1915 Memorial Fund will support a July 2022 workshop in partnership with the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece, which aims to create a dialogue among artists, scholars, and critics in Athens and Princeton.

  • Engaging Indigenous Ecologies of Knowledges
    João Biehl (Anthropology); Agustín Fuentes (Anthropology); Carlos Fausto (PIIRS Global Scholar)

This interdisciplinary PIIRS Brazil LAB research group consists of faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from Princeton and academic institutions in Brazil.  The Edward T. Cone ’39 *42 Fund in the Humanities Council will co-sponsor a hybrid reading group as well as two research workshops in 2022-23.

  • Global Cervantes
    Marina Brownlee (Spanish and Portuguese); Christina Lee (Spanish and Portuguese)

This grant from the Eberhard L. Faber 1915 Memorial Fund will support a Summer 2023 conference that will consider literature and its interface with science, technology, medicine, visual studies, and music, as well as environmental humanities—all as expressed in the Quixote.

  • Radicalism, Politics and Poetics in Early Modern Europe
    Russ Leo (English)

This two-day conference in May 2023, supported by the Eberhard L. Faber 1915 Memorial Fund in the Humanities Council, will celebrate the work of Nigel Smith, and offer a two-day masterclass on 17th century radicalism led by eminent scholars of early modern poetry and politics.


  • Art Hx: The Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism
    Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Art & Archaeology, African American Studies)

This two-year grant will support artists-in-residence, fellows, and community-focused programing for Art Hx, an ongoing project that explores the historical, and ongoing, entanglements of art, race, and colonial medicine through the curation of a digital database and research platform.

    Beatrice Kitzinger (Art & Archaeology); Jamie Reuland (Music)

This three-year project, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, develops an interdisciplinary working group devoted to the study of the Middle Ages. It will foster collaboration between scholars and artists and promote the visibility of Medieval Studies through programming in the performing arts.

  • Organizing Stories: Toward a Scholarly-Activist Praxis
    Autumn M. Womack (African American Studies); Monica Huerta (English, American Studies)

This ongoing student-driven project investigates the long history of anti-racist activism, racial justice organizing, and coalition-building as it relates to questions of narrative, storytelling, and humanistic study. By creating new avenues of exchange between Princeton University and community-based social justice work, students and activists will imagine new ways to support and amplify a scholarly-activist praxis.

  • Waldemar Cordeiro: Bits of the Planet
    Rachel Price (Spanish and Portuguese)

This digital exhibition focuses on the pioneering paintings and sculpture, media theory, early computer art, and landscape architecture of Brazilian artist Waldemar Cordeiro (Rome 1925—São Paulo 1973). This grant will support an artist to innovate the infrastructure for the exhibition.


  • Land, Language and Art
    Sarah Rivett (English, American Studies) with Simon Morrison (Music, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Fund for Canadian Studies); Bryan Just (Art & Archaeology); Laura Kalin (Linguistics, Humanities Council); Tessa Desmond (American Studies); Daniel Rubenstein (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

This new three-year project, from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Princeton, supports initiatives to foster new methodologies and modes of knowledge production in three areas of research and learning that are central to Indigenous Studies: land, language, and art.

  • Rome Archive and Library Seminar
    Anthony Grafton (History)

This three-year grant provides partial support for a summer graduate seminar held in Rome, in partnership with the University of Notre Dame, where students will study archives in the Vatican Library, the National Library, and the Jesuit Archive, and allow curators and scholars to share their experience working with these materials.

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