Current Magic Projects

In addition to supporting new projects in the humanities, 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 and Exploratory Grants in Collaborative Humanities.


  • 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.

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

Global Initiatives

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