2014 to 2016
Most humanistic disciplines underwent a profound transformation during the challenges to the academy associated with second wave feminism, between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. The canon in many fields was overturned, pedagogy was rethought, research reimagined. Not so in philosophy. Despite the undeniable impact of feminist science studies — led by scholars including Donna Haraway and Helen Longino — on certain areas of philosophy, and the contribution of standpoint epistemology — for instance, in the work of Sandra Harding — to feminist approaches in analytic philosophy, the field as a whole remains remarkably static.
Recent highly publicized incidents at Northwestern University, the University of Miami, and the University of Colorado have generated a national conversation about the deplorable conditions faced by women in philosophy, which is dubiously distinguished in the humanities by its low rate of participation by women. Andrew Janiak, Creed C. Black Associate Professor of Philosophy, Sara Bernstein, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, and Adela Deanova, PhD candidate in Philosophy, believe that creating a new kind of historical course can serve as an important component in a cultural shift in the discipline.
This effort is different in two ways from earlier feminist projects in the history of philosophy. First, the philosophical writing of women will be integrated into the same rigorous, historically specific categories as writing by men. Second, rather than creating a textbook, as was characteristic of second-wave feminist projects seeking to change pedagogical practices, this project will create a website.
The goal of the website is to enable philosophers to incorporate texts by women in the early modern period into their existing courses. Since the material will be publicly available on the internet, it has the potential to reach a wider audience, as well. The site will not only present the material, it will also convey the problematic nature of the material — the exclusion of women from the early modern philosophical canon renders the collection and interpretation of their materials complex: women’s writing was often anonymous, misattributed to men, justified largely by their aristocratic or royal status, etc.
In addition to the website, the project has a second task, which is to study the best methods of incorporating women’s texts into the modern philosophy canon. The test bed will be Duke’s course History of Modern Philosophy (PHIL 201), taken by about 70 students each year. The website will be a primary resource for the redesigned class.
This project is the second of three stages in a larger effort. Stage one consisted of archival research, collection of materials, and preliminary discussions. Stage three will expand the current project’s teaching and research through a collaboration linking Duke, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University, with partner faculty including Karen Detlefsen, Associate Professor of Education and Philosophy at Penn, and Christia Mercer, Gustave Berne Professor of Philosophy at Columbia.
Project Vox Video Introductions
-- Mar 1 2015
One of the outcomes of this project is a pair of videos that Andrew Janiak has recorded and made available through the Youtube Channel "Wireless Philsosophy." Wi-Phi's mission is to introduce... Read More
Finding Philosophy's Female Voices
-- Mar 10 2015
The discipline of philosophy has a notoriously low rate of participation by women. The Emerging Network Philosophy’s Gender in Historical Perspective has just produced a... Read More
Publishing Project Vox
-- Nov 5 2015 - 11:45am
Project Vox, launched in March 2015, encourages rediscovery of the ideas and contributions of early modern women philosophers. Currently the project is developing standards and workflows for... Read More