Magic Project Grants 2017-18

In 2017-18, the Humanities Council awarded 28 grants to Princeton faculty members through the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project. The grants, which supported innovative projects in the humanities, range from $5,000 to $50,000, thanks to the generosity of Lynn Shostack, in memory of her husband, David A. Gardner ’69.

The goal is to support ideas that break new ground intellectually and pedagogically and have the potential to change how the humanities are conceived and taught. Magic grants are awarded only for first-time projects to be carried out in the 2017-18 academic year.

2017-18 Course Development Grants for Team Teaching

These faculty will develop team-taught undergraduate courses that reach beyond a single department/unit and are explicitly interdisciplinary in their conception. These courses will be cross-listed in Humanistic Studies and fulfill a requirement for the undergraduate certificate program. Examining larger questions and major texts, these courses build bridges either within the arts and humanities, or across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Elena Fratto, Slavic Languages and Literatures
Tala Khanmalek, Gender and Sexuality Studies

This team-taught seminar, Medical Story-Worlds, will explore questions of illness, health, and the body through a wide range of literary texts from all over the world, using storytelling as an entry point to these fundamental human experiences. The seminar will be interactive and highly collaborative, featuring guest lecturers from Global Health, the Lewis Center, the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories, and a Theater of the Oppressed group, who will each teach a class in their own institutional “space.” As students move from the classroom to a theater, from a lab to a dance studio, concepts and definitions are continuously reassessed and reframed.


Nino Luraghi, Classics
Federico Marcon, History and East Asian Studies

How the Past Became History, from East Asia to the Ancient Mediterranean, an interdisciplinary capstone course for Humanities Studies in the fall of 2017, considers Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Roman historiography, traditions of history writing, and problems of historical method and historical theory. With a strong focus on in-class discussion, the course will offer students an opportunity to engage in several different kinds of activity.


Marni Sandweiss, History
Esther Schor, English

This team-taught course Witness will be an interdisciplinary capstone course for Humanities Studies in the spring of 2018. What is a witness? What does it mean to witness? Who witnesses, and what does a witness do?  A collaborative effort to define the term “witness” and an introduction to the many contexts in which the act of witnessing is crucial.  We’ll relate the idea of witness to testimony and evidence – also key terms in this course. A look at “testimony” in various media – legal testimony, prints, photographs, journalistic accounts, memoir- to discuss the challenges posed by different media.


2017-18 Grants for Innovation in the Humanities

David Bellos, Comparative Literature
Alexandre Montagu, Class of 1987, property lawyer

Magic funds will support the preparation for a new course Who Owns This Sentence? Copyright Culture From The Romantic Era To The Age Of The Internet; course with broad appeal for undergraduate students of literature, media, and history, and one of lasting relevance for eventual careers in the humanities, law, and the performing arts.


Marina Brownlee, Spanish and Portuguese

This Magic grant will support a one-day workshop Defining Gender in Early Modern Iberia, to explore cultural attitudes and institutions by bringing together scholars known for their contributions to the definitions of gender.


Steven Chung, East Asian Studies
Erin Huang, Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies
Franz Prichard, East Asian Studies

The Asia Theory Visuality conference funded by a Magic Grant will develop a forum for comparative and interdisciplinary scholarship on modern and contemporary Asia(s) at Princeton.


Committee for Film Studies

Thinking Cinema” will be a year-long lecture series that structures vibrant encounters between leading film scholars and the Princeton community. At its core will be the work of historians and theorists whose research interests span temporal and regional frames but who share a commitment to critical film and media analysis.


Thomas Conlan, East Asian Studies and History
Howard Stone, Mechanical Aerospace Engineering
Nan Yao, Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, PRISM

Magic funds a new project, The Story of Slag: Creating a Chronology of Copper Smelting for Japan 700-2000. These funds will be used for the chemical and electron microscope analysis of slag samples so as to ascertain changes in smelting over these centuries.


Jane Cox, Theater

The Magic fund supports guest artists and engineers for a new course “Story telling with Technology for Performance,” created by Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater and the Council on Science and Technology. Students will learn about tools and techniques from design professionals across several fields, and will engage directly and collaboratively with technology to design experiences focused around live performance.


Angela Creager, History

Magic funds supports a graduate workshop, Learning by the Book: Manuals in the History of Knowledge, a working group of interdisciplinary scholars who are examining the role of such texts in different countries and regions, and in periods from antiquity to the present.


Jessica Delgado, Religion

This summer, a Magic grant will fund a research trip to Rome for La Patrona Collective for Colonial Latin American Scholarship. While in Rome, members of the Collective and graduate students will spend a week in the Vatican archives and workshops to support collaborative projects as well as student’s individual work.


Javier Guerrero, Spanish and Portuguese

This Magic grant funds a fall trip to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles where students will explore Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985, an art exhibition that reevaluates the contribution of Latin American, Latina, and Chicana women artists to contemporary art.  The trip is for the course Poisonous Flowers: Radical Women in Latin America.


Joshua Guild, African American Studies and History

Magic funds will support a spring break trip to New Orleans for students taking the course, “The History of New Orleans: Invention and Reinvention in an American City.”


Andrew Hamilton, Art and Archaeology

Magic funds support the spring break excursion to Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lima for the Inca Art and Architecture undergraduate seminar. The excursion is designed as an “art history laboratory” where students collaboratively explore ideas and advance each other’s research.


Wendy Heller, Music
Jamie Reuland, Music

Magic funds a spring break trip to Venice for an undergraduate seminar, Venice and the East, giving students the opportunity to explore Venice’s unique topography, its ceremonial spaces, and how life was experienced in the Venetian Republic. The trip will include visits to archives and museums.


Wendy Heller, Music

A Magic grant will support the creation of a piece of original music to be performed at the inauguration of the new Lewis Center for the Arts.


Journalism Initiative

The Princeton Journalism Initiative will function as a laboratory and incubator for path-breaking ventures aimed at expanding news literacy among citizens, increasing the amount and quality of accountability journalism, and exploring new models for funding serious, impactful journalism.


Joshua Kotin, English

This Magic grant will support the hiring of graduate students to recreate the Shakespeare and Company lending library. Sylvia Beach opened Shakespeare and Company in Paris in 1919, and closed its doors to the public in 1941, during the Nazi occupation of France. Princeton’s Firestone Library holds Beach’s papers, which document the lending library’s inventory as well as its growth.


Russ Leo, English

Magic funds support the conference The Intellectual Lives of Hugo Grotius. Drawing together scholars of philosophy, political theory, theology and literature, this conference aims to explore Grotius’ various projects and to place his work in conversation with contemporaries at a crucial transitional moment in European intellectual history.


Thomas Levin, German
Adam Finkelstein, Computer Science

Magic grants funds a two-year project Recovering the Archive of the World’s Earliest Voice Mail (1905-­‐1907), a new project aims to finally read a long lost chapter of media history, postcards known as Sonorines.


Anna Lim, Music

This Magic grant will fund the travel for an undergraduate string quartet to participate in the Sarajevo Chamber Music Festival, workshops, master classes and concerts in Sarajevo and nearby cities in August 2017.


Andrew Lovett, Music

A Magic grant will fund the performance of a new comic-opera, The Analysing Engine by Andrew Lovett, and a one-day conference examining the state of small-scale opera.


Florent Masse, French and Italian

This Magic grant will offer students the chance to travel to and explore new territories in Asia supporting a new enriching L’Avant-Scène international program to Japan next fall break 2017.


Efthymia Rentzou, French and Italian

Magic funds support an international conference, Surrealism: From France to the World that will be held at Princeton University in March 2018, unifying the scholarly field of Surrealism studies in the arts and humanities, beginning with Anglo-American and French academia.


Jamie Reuland, Music

Magic funds will support the redesign of Music 270 course into music performance and music history course.


Marni Sandweiss, History

Magic grants will support the launch of the Princeton and Slavery Project, bringing scholarly humanistic research to a broad public on the campus and beyond.


Dan Trueman, Music
Paul Muldoon, Lewis Center for the Arts

Magic funds will support an eight-day residency of Eighth Blackbird, a Grammy award-winning contemporary music ensemble in February 2018.


Judith Weisenfeld, Religion

Magic funds will support the Religion and the American Normal conference, exploring the intersections of religion and constructions of the normal in twentieth and twenty-first-century American life.


Multi-year projects in the final year:

Zahid Chaudhary, English

Zahid Chaudhary was awarded a Magic grant to support guest speakers and activities related to a new course, “Beyond Bollywood.” The course focuses on the cinema’s global reach, visual pleasure, mix of traditions and genres, relationship to the popular and to “third cinema,” and its checkered history across decolonization, the cold war, globalization, and the age of terror.

Humanities Council Logo
Italian Studies Logo
American Studies Logo
Humanistic Studies Logo
Ancient World Logo
Canadian Studies Logo
ESC Logo
Journalism Logo
Linguistics Logo
Medieval Studies Logo
Renaissance Logo
Film Studies Logo