Two Seeger alumni to pursue Fulbright grants on islands in Hellenic world

July 14, 2021

In the fall, two undergraduate alumni of the Seeger Center’s Program in Hellenic Studies will pursue Fulbright grants in the Hellenic world. This year, Harrison Blackman ’17 was awarded a study/research grant to the Republic of Cyprus, and Pria M. Louka ’20, a grantee in 2020 whose initial grant period was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, will now be able to fulfill her 2020-2021 study/research grant to the Greek island of Crete.

The Fulbright Program was founded in 1946 to send American scholars and English teachers to countries around the world to foster mutual understanding and cultural exchange between the United States and other countries. 

Harrison and Pria join a long line of Princetonians and Seeger alumni who have been awarded Fulbright grants in the Mediterranean and the historic Hellenic world.

Harrison Blackman ’17: Ekistics and creative writing in Cyprus
Harrison Blackman, who at Princeton concentrated in History and received certificates in Urban Studies, Hellenic Studies, and Creative Writing, will pursue a study/research grant in Cyprus as an affiliate of The Cyprus Institute in the capital of Nicosia. As part of a narrative nonfiction project, he will be using the methods of Ekistics, the science of human settlements, to study the development of Cyprus’s cities since the island country’s division in 1974 into Greek and Turkish communities.

Ekistics was originally developed by the Greek architect and planner Constantinos Doxiadis in the 1950s and 1960s. In 2017, Harrison Blackman wrote his senior thesis on the life and work of Doxiadis in Athens, a project which received that year’s Hellenic Studies Senior Thesis Prize. A year later, he presented his research on Doxiadis’s work in Philadelphia at a Delos Network conference held at the Benaki Museum in Athens. 

In 2021, Harrison completed an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is one of the writers working on a project with Seeger Center Director Dimitri Gondicas ’78 and Catherine Curan ’92 about the history of the relationship between Princeton and Greece from the University’s foundation in 1746 to the modern Seeger Center. 

Pria Louka ’20: The exchange between modern Greek and American theater in Crete
At Princeton, Pria Louka graduated in 2020 with a concentration in Chemistry with certificates in Hellenic Studies and Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). 

In 2020, she was awarded a study/research grant to Greece to study the connections between the modern Greek and American theatrical traditions of the 1950s and 60s, focusing on the influence of George Theotokas (1906–1966), a director of the Greek National Theater who visited the United States in 1952 and built enduring relationships with American playwrights, scholars, actors, and artists. To implement his vision for a broader Greek theatrical landscape, Theotokas was inspired by American models of experimental theater and community. This coming academic year, Pria will pursue her grant by working with researchers at the Institute for Mediterrean Studies and the University of Crete in the island’s city of Rethymno to uncover the untold narrative about this influential cultural exchange.

Pria was born in Connecticut to Greek and Indian parents and grew up in Athens and Princeton. Her scientific research at Princeton was complemented by intensive language learning and study of modern Greek literature. She received the 2020 Hellenic Studies Senior Project Prize for her undergraduate senior project, “Abyss and Song: Twenty Poems of George Sarantaris in Translation.” Pria aims for her journey of discovery regarding modern Greek literature to continue during her Fulbright year and beyond.