Project Vox (2018-2019)


Philosophy is a surprisingly static enterprise: the canonical figures in early modern philosophy, from Descartes and Locke to Hume and Kant, have remained essentially fixed in teaching and research for the past 50 years. The all-male canon reflects the fact that women were often excluded from early modern intellectual life, which centered on universities like Oxford and institutions like the Académie Royales des Sciences in Paris. New historical research demonstrates that many women managed nonetheless to publish philosophical works in French, German and English. Until very recently, however, college courses throughout the English-speaking world have neglected them.

Project Description

Founded in 2014, Project Vox is a web-based scholarly guide to the lost voices of women in early modern philosophy. Developed through robust collaborations with scholars in the U.S. and abroad, the Project Vox website has become an invaluable resource for undergraduates, graduate students, instructors and scholars eager to learn more about the contributions of women to the modern philosophy.

This Bass Connections project will extend and strengthen the work of Project Vox in order to give students the chance to engage in the creation, curation, and maintenance of an internationally prominent digital humanities project. By undertaking original research projects, the team will work to expand the Project Vox website to include a wider range of figures and historical eras. The team will also work to build and maintain website infrastructure to ensure smooth operation across multiple platforms. Additionally, team members will assess the website’s use through surveys and Google Analytics and engage in communications and outreach projects that will introduce Project Vox to new users.

Anticipated Outcomes

Expansion of Project Vox website to cover a wider range of early modern women; analysis of web infrastructure and analytics to address website functionality, usability and reach; original archival research and translation projects

Student Opportunities

Students will engage with every aspect of Project Vox and gain valuable skills in team-based digital publishing, from gathering historical information, to writing new code underlying the web platform, to using social media to promote the site and reach new audiences. The team will meet weekly to discuss every aspect of creating, curating and maintaining an internationally prominent digital project.

This team will be made up of undergraduate and graduate students with a range of interests, skills and disciplinary backgrounds. Some team members should have the technical skills necessary to work on the website; some should have various levels of training in philosophy; some will learn how to find historically accurate images to help portray the life and times of the women featured on the website. This training combines information from art history, library science and European history, enabling team members to find the provenance of images, obtain permission to use images and uncover forgeries.

Undergraduate students can expect to hone independent research skills, learn how to write drafts of copy for a website, track Project Vox on social media and assist in maintaining the usability and stability of the website’s functions.

Graduate students can expect to conduct advanced archival research (with the possibility for international travel), assist with manuscript translation, coordinate community outreach and website assessment and engage in grant writing. All team members will learn fundamental teamwork skills and communicate across disciplinary and learner-level boundaries.

A graduate student will serve as a full-time project manager for one academic year (in lieu of traditional TA or teaching duties). The project manager will plan meetings, organize workflow, track the use of funds and take on other duties as needed.

The relevant team leader will evaluate each student’s work, grade it if appropriate and provide a letter of reference if relevant.


Fall 2018 – Spring 2019  

Students may participate in either or both semesters.

  • Fall 2018: Extensive training and discussion related to issues in digital publishing; original and continued research on women in early modern philosophy
  • Spring 2019: Continued research; expansion of Project Vox website to include new figures


Independent study credit available for fall and spring semesters

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Mattia Begali, Arts & Sciences-Romance Studies
Katherine Brading, Arts & Sciences-Philosophy
Andrew Janiak, Arts & Sciences-Philosophy*
Elizabeth Milewicz, Duke Libraries*
William Shaw, Digital Scholarship Services
Cheryl Thomas, Duke Libraries

Graduate Team Members

Elizabeth Crisenbery, Music-PHD
Bryce Gessell, Philosophy-PHD
Christopher Kennedy, Political Science-PHD

Undergraduate Team Members

Roy Auh, Philosophy (AB)
Sandra Luksic, Philosophy (AB), Political Science (AB2)
Katherine Owensby, Philosophy (AB), Public Policy Studies (AB2)
Jen Semler, Classical Languages (AB), Linguistics (AB2)

* denotes team leader


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