GU4200: Mathematics and the Humanities | G. Spivak, M. Harris

English and Comparative Literature and Mathematics
Undergraduate and Graduate Lecture
W 2:10-4PM

This is an unusually innovative course, being taught by two senior faculty members who are theorists and practitioners in disciplines as different as mathematics and literary criticism. The instructors believe that in today's world, the different ways in which theoretical mathematics and literary criticism mold the imaginations of students and scholars, should be integrated, so that the robust ethical imagination that is needed to combat the disintegration of our world can be produced. 

We will consider questions such as the parallels and differences between literary writing and mathematical writing, and the survival skills of the logicist school over against the Foundational Crisis of the early 20th century.  Through a reading of such philosophers as Wittgenstein, we will ask: Are mathematical objects real?  Or are they linguistic conventions? We will consider literary representations of mathematics.  We will close with two classes where faculty persons from English and Biology will teach with us to help students and instructors understand the role of the digital imagination in the humanities: Can mathematics be written by machines?; and the play of a mathematical imagination in Christine Brooke Rose’s massive novel Subscript.

Link to Vergil
Note: only courses offered during the two previous semesters have active Vergil links.