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The Quill Project Launch New Negotiated Texts Network on International Women’s Day 2017

16th March 2017

The Quill Project officially launched the Negotiated Texts Network on 8th March 2017 at Pembroke College. The Network, funded by the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), brings together researchers working with formal negotiations, and using digital and statistical methodologies, alongside those using digital platforms in teaching or public engagement contexts.

The Quill Project aims to transform access to the founding documents of American constitutional law, by making newly accurate and useful versions of the records of the of the Constitution’s creation available to a wider audience. Quill is a software platform with the potential to impact the study of a wide range of records.

Tying the event into International Women’s Day, current researcher for Quill, Grace Mallon, spoke about the pivotal role that Eleanor Roosevelt played as chair of the commission on Human Rights – highlighting that although René Cassin was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for his role in drafting the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), it was a product of collaborative procedure, rather than individual contribution. 

Her talk also marked the launch of Quill’s next project; over the summer of 2017 the team will model the drafting of the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a foundational document of the United Nations that expressed an attempt to reform the world order and standards of human and institutional behaviour after the destruction of World War II. 

Discussing how the Negotiated Texts Network relates to their research, the other speakers drew attention to the value of looking at the finer, often overlooked, details and how they inform our understanding of the bigger picture. As the event proceeded, it emerged that the possibilities of technologies like the Quill platform to enable fresh ways of thinking about negotiated texts across a diverse range of disciplines are endless.

Dr Rob Johnson, Pembroke Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Changing Character of War Programme (CCW); spoke about peace treaties of the Great War and the potential of such platforms to shed new light on modern day conflict and tensions. Dr Ben Noble, Herbert Nicholas Junior Research Fellow in Politics at New College, Oxford, discussed the legislative process in Russian Duma and the formal negotiations that occur within its authoritarian structure. In her talk, Pip Willcox, the Head of the Centre for Digital Scholarship at the Bodleian Libraries, observed that no single authorial version of the Canterbury Tales survives and emphasised the importance of examining the literary procedure behind texts produced through a multi-authorial process.

We look forward more reports of the interdisciplinary collaborations and conversations fostered by the Negotiated Texts Network. Keep an eye on their website for future events.

To read more about the event’s proceedings view this blog post by Quill Research Assistant, Olivia Griffiths.