Project Vox is an online, peer-reviewed guide for instructors, students, historians, and scholars to explore the works of early modern women philosophers and incorporate them in their teaching, learning, and research. Based at Duke University, Project Vox’s team of international scholars have built a platform to promote the full integration of women philosophers into the early modern Western philosophy canon, through instruction and digital publications of philosophical texts. The site brings to light the valuable contributions of these marginalized figures of early modern Western philosophy, which have oftentimes gone unnoticed. Project Vox also addresses the lack of access to readily available teaching resources for those instructors wanting to introduce history majors to a more complete historical picture of philosophical figures.
The Philosophers tab is perhaps the richest section of Project Vox. Through a narrative and dialogical approach, this link directs students and instructors at all levels with biographical, pedagogical, and bibliographical content on figures, including Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Damaris Cudworth Masham, Marquise Du Châtelet, Mary Astell, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, Anna Maria van Schurman and Shepherd. Each philosopher page includes a biographical sketch, portraits, a chronology, a primary sources guide, a secondary sources guide, as well as correspondences, exchanges, and connections with her contemporaries. A good example to explore is the biographical page of mid-17th century philosopher, Margaret Cavendish, who we learn entered the intellectual circle of the Royal Society of London and engaged with French and English thinkers Hobbes, Descartes, and Boyle.
Such content, which is curated by scholars and instructors, include educational and research materials (e.g. videos, research methods) suitable for college European history or AP world history students covering a unit on the scientific revolution. Users will notice that some interpretive content to philosophical works and accompanying teaching materials are forthcoming. The site is meant to be a continuous work in progress, and as creators and contributors continue to build Project Vox, it is advised that visitors encountering materials that are “forthcoming” to check out the Teaching section of the site in the meantime.
Instructors, particularly those wanting to incorporate women’s philosophical works in their undergraduate early modern history courses, will find the Teaching tab quite useful.
Its sample collection of syllabi created by experienced instructors with relevant subject area expertise can enhance the curricula by covering a wide range of topics, such as Cartesianism and substance monism, Leibnizian metaphysics, knowledge and role of reason in theology, love and sociability, experimental and mechanical philosophy, natural philosophy, Newtonian science, metaphysics, substance, theories of causation, and theodicy. Based on the information found in the site’s News section (under the About pages), users will learn that the list of philosopher entries is expected to grow in the near future, with the addition of names like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Tullia D’Aragona.
Although, Project Vox was initially geared more toward undergraduate classrooms, efforts are underway to expand its audience to K-12 teachers. Some relevant forthcoming material can found through the News section, including the development of new projects that will target primary and secondary schoolers. The site has announced the launching of the Reading Voicesblog series, with the objective sharing research and stories from scholars who study women philosophers and broadening the site’s scope beyond European and British women thinkers as well as beyond Western philosophical traditions. Their newest project,Project Vox Classroom, will be a forum to explore approaches to redesigning history of philosophy curricula in ways that students can experience a classroom that incorporates marginalized philosophical voices.
The Image Gallery tab is a selection of public domain sources that offer a window into the lives and times of these great thinkers, with illustrations that depict their lifestyles and draw comparisons between them and their male counterparts. The Timeline provides a more comprehensive historical visualization of early modern philosophy by highlighting the life, works, correspondences, and points of convergence between philosophers.
Overall, Project Vox offers a simple, easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing platform. Courses in world history and European history can incorporate its supplementary sources to help students enhance their historical thinking with a more inclusive study of philosophy. They can also contribute with pedagogical content. Historians and researchers of philosophy can also benefit from it, as they have access to materials that will expand their knowledge and research beyond the traditional canon. As potential contributors, they can also use this platform to foment the creation of scholarly literature and nurture a community of scholars. The site is very appropriate for introductory courses in modern history, gender studies, history of philosophy.