Current Magic Projects


  • Beyond Provenance: What Information Doesn’t Tell Us
    Erin Besler (Architecture)

Hosted by the School of Architecture in 2023-24, Beyond Provenance is a new workshop series that examines “provenance” across fields of inquiry and collectively reimagines its exigency for the built environment. The sessions, developed in collaboration with Sarah Hearne (University of Colorado, Denver), will incorporate remote object demonstrations and bring Princeton graduate students and faculty together with inventive technicians, historians, and practitioners whose research focuses on the circulation of artifacts.

  • Sick Architecture 2
    Beatriz Colomina (Architecture)

This collaborative project, developed from an ongoing interdisciplinary seminar, allows graduate students to investigate a wide range of intersections between medicine and architecture. Now in its second phase, the grant will support expanded research exhibitions in Princeton and with the School of Architecture.

  • Queer Spaces in the World, Concepts and Methods
    S. E. Eisterer (Architecture)

The Queer Space Working Group, an interdisciplinary student-faculty group, was founded in spring 2021 to discuss key scholarly questions in the study of queer spaces. This grant will help the working group develop a new conference component anchored in a series of discussions institutionally focusing on methods and concepts that have emerged in the field of LGBTQ+ global spatial studies.

  • Borobudur: New Directions for Research
    Jonathan Gold (Religion)

This grant supports an on-site workshop at the famous Buddhist monument of Borobudur, a masterpiece of stone carving near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The exploratory workshop will bring together 24 scholars and graduate students from around the globe to generate new insights and scholarly research around the site, and establish a Borobudur research network centered at Princeton.

  • LOGION: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Philology
    Barbara Graziosi (Classics); Johannes Haubold (Classics); Karthik Narasimhan (Computer Science); Suma Bhat (Computer Science)

This project aims to develop a scalable, Natural Language Processing (NLP) model, called Logion, to support philological restoration of ancient and medieval Greek texts. Together, philologists and NLP experts will assess results of the machine learning algorithm, and undergraduate students will work to create a user-friendly interface for the program.

  • Suspended in the Air: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Workshop at Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
    Molly Greene (History and Hellenic Studies)

This grant will support an eight-day intensive workshop at the Meteora monasteries in Thessaly, Greece. The workshop will introduce graduate students to the rich heritage of the monastic community of Meteora, as well as provide a foundation in methods of Greek paleography, the transmission history of ancient and medieval texts, and the history of premodern and early modern book culture.

  • Chile 9/11
    Javier Guerrero(Spanish and Portuguese)

September 11, 2023 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the military coup against President Salvador Allende in Chile. This grant will support a series of workshops, symposia, panels, art installations, and performances to commemorate this anniversary and its legacy for Chile and the Americas. The sessions will emphasize the role of the arts in confronting and resisting fascism. 

  • Postwar New York: Workshops
    Joshua Kotin (English)

This grant supports three workshops that will enhance the spring 2024 graduate seminar, “Postwar New York,” taught by Joshua Kotin. The workshops will connect students to mid-career scholars and extend discussions beyond the classroom to offer a more comprehensive account of the artistic, literary, and intellectual culture in 1960s New York.

  • Re/Framing Eastern European Cinema
    Yuri Leving (Slavic Languages and Literatures)

This two-day international conference will focus on Eastern European cinema before and in the aftermath of the Russian-Ukrainian war of 2022. Participants will interrogate the cultural canon, challenge common historical interpretations, and reflect on the visual experiences of displacement and violence in light of the largest military crisis in Europe since WWII.

  • Albertus Magnus’ De Natura Loci
    Hendrik Lorenz (Philosophy)

Albertus Magnus’ De Natura Loci, written in the 1250s, is a key text for the history of the modern concept of race and for Iberian exploration and colonization in Africa and the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries. This grant supports a four-day workshop in 2024, which will bring together faculty and scholars who have contributed research on the text. 

  • Re-Discovering Semiotics for the Humanities and Social Sciences
    Federico Marcon (East Asian Studies and History)

This event series, to be held between 2023-2025, aims to re-introduce the theory and methodology of interpretive semiotics to Princeton graduate students and faculty working within the humanities and social sciences. Its long-term aim is to develop a platform for interactive and collaborative interdisciplinary research that connects an international network of scholars interested in semiotics.

  • The Princeton LLM Forum: Interdisciplinary Conversations about Large Language Models
    Meredith Martin (English and Center for Digital Humanities); Danqi Chen (Computer Science)

Recent breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have produced a new class of neural networks called Large Language Models (LLMs) that demonstrate a capability to generate fluent, plausible responses to prompts posed in natural language. This interdivisional group of faculty, staff, and students will examine LLMs from different angles and consider the role they may play in culture and society going forward.

  • The Fluid Futures Forum
    Anne McClintock (Gender and Sexuality and High Meadows Environmental Institute); Ryo Morimoto (Anthropology)

This grant will fund a new initiative that brings together faculty, post-doctoral fellows and students across the humanities, sciences, and arts, to generate collaborations focused on the planet’s urgent and enduring water-related challenges. The Fluid Futures Forum will feature monthly discussions, an art exhibition, and a multi-media conference set to launch in 2024.

  • Translating Mesoamerica: Learning about Indigenous Cultures through Princeton’s Nahuatl Documents from Colonial Mexico & Central America
    Nadia Cervantes Pérez (Spanish and Portuguese)

This project will produce a visually engaging and interactive platform, built by the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, that includes the translation and curation of manuscripts and documents in Indigenous languages from the Princeton University Library’s Mesoamerican Collection. This grant supports both Spanish and English translators, who will transcribe and translate some of the most prominent Nahuatl manuscripts. 

  • Arriving in the Present: Transcultural Perspectives in Contemporary German-Speaking Contexts Phase II
    Sara S. Poor (German); Barbara N. Nagel (German)

This reading group aims to expand and diversify the community of the Department of German at Princeton by fostering the study of “Transnational Literatures” and “Literatures of (Post-)Migration,” two increasingly relevant fields in German studies. Building on a 2023 Humanities Council Flash Grant, this initiative will develop a new conference in spring 2024.

  • Be Kunu – African Music at Princeton
    Michael Pratt (Music; University Orchestra); Olivier Tarpaga (Music)

This project aims to introduce the community to rich artistic and cultural material from the African continent via collaborations, new artistic creations, and performances. The Magic Grant will support a spring 2024 event featuring a suite of new music created and performed via a collaboration between the Princeton University Orchestra, the African Music Ensemble, and musicians who specialize in ancient African string instruments and balafon.

  • The Animal Song Collective
    Gavin Steingo (Music); Asif Ghazanfar (Neuroscience and Psychology)

This project brings together humanists and scientists to explore the idea of “animal song” from a cross-disciplinary and collaborative perspective. Researchers, writers, and artists will examine the topic in hopes of gaining greater understanding of its intricacies, from social synchronization and linguistic turn-taking to biosemiotics. The grant supports two weeklong workshops, in-person research in Cape Town and San Diego, and a symposium in fall 2024.


  • Revisiting Paris
    André Benhaïm (French and Italian)

This 200-level course will study Paris as an urban space, an object of representation, and part of a French cultural identity. This Magic Grant will support a fall break trip to Paris, where undergraduate students will explore the city’s historical memory, its contemporary life, and its cultural activity.

  • Korean Language Learning in Virtual Environments: Exploring and Navigating the Metropolitan City of Seoul & UNESCO World Heritage Sites
    Ho Jung Choi (East Asian Studies)

This grant will enhance the Princeton in Korea summer course by integrating virtual reality (VR) components to the language-learning experience. Students will explore the city of Seoul, which represents a blend of traditional culture and modern technology.

  • Democratizing Culture: The State of the Arts in France
    Florent Masse (French and Italian)

This grant will support the creation of a new course, cross-listed in French and Italian and the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater. The course will explore initiatives by French cultural institutions to democratize culture, and includes a spring break trip to Paris, where students will visit major cultural institutions and meet with officials at the Ministry of Culture.

  • The Building and Ecology of the Ise Shrines
    Guy Nordenson (Architecture)

The Ise Shrine (Jingū), in Mie Prefecture, Japan, is a complex of Shinto shrines and other buildings that are rebuilt every 20 years. With few interruptions, the rebuilding has continued for over 1200 years. This grant will support a Freshman Seminar fall-break trip to Japan where undergraduate students will meet scholars at the University of Tokyo and visit the Ise Shrines.

  • Building Life: Architecture, Science and Environmental Epistemes
    Spyros Papapetros (Architecture)

This two-day international conference, which will be held at Princeton and the Museum of Modern Art, will extend the investigations of a homonymous graduate seminar on the parallel development of biological theories and architectural practices in the 19th and 20th centuries. The grant will support the conference, as well as facilitate an in-person visit to the “Emerging Ecologies” exhibition at the MoMA.

  • Theater in Early Modern London: The Purpose of Playing
    Bailey Sincox (Humanities Council, English, and Humanistic Studies)

This grant will enrich a new, interdisciplinary 400-level seminar in fall 2023, which provides a comprehensive, performance-centered introduction to English drama’s golden age (circa 1570-1640). Students will travel to the United Kingdom to experience first-hand theatrical spaces that they study in class, including the recreation Globe and Whitehall’s Banqueting House, the British Library, Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.


  • 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:

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