Calculated Fiction: Adventures in Structure


Spring 2015 quarter

Taught by

book arts, literature, creative writing
mathematics, computer science, improvisational theater
aesthetics and philosophy, critical theory, psychoanalysis

This is an upper division program aimed to support interdisciplinary work among students with some experience in any of our disciplines: mathematics, the humanities, or creative writing. Together, and drawing on our respective backgrounds, we will explore how conceptual tools like philosophical terms, fictional narratives, and mathematical systems depend upon and challenge the structures of knowledge—edifices built up against the unknown. We'll see how practices in all three disciplines function to exceed or disrupt conventional thinking, and we'll pursue our own experiments in the use of constraints to help emancipate us from aesthetic traditions and generic structures of meaning.

We’ll regard each of these disciplines as ongoing conversations that can both expand and limit what we can know and what we can imagine. For us, mathematics will be an imaginative, humanist endeavor: a study of patterns, a struggle for certainty and precision that yields a language of symbols that in turn reveals new possibilities for inquiry. Philosophy will help us both think about the conditions for the possibility of world-making and examine fictional worlds as aesthetic objects. In our study of literature, we’ll attend closely to structures in language and narrative that make meaning possible.

We’ll read work by contemporary literary experimentalists working within the aesthetic and philosophical lineages of Borges and Calvino, story tellers for whom time, space, and being are of more interest than plot. Philosophical texts will likely include works by Kant, Benjamin, Adorno, and Lacan. We'll also read texts that describe the scope, content, and aesthetic of modern mathematical work, such as Davis and Hersh's The Mathematical Experience .

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

literature, writing, philosophy, and mathematics.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.


Date Revision
January 16th, 2014 New spring opportunity added. This program is an advanced version of the fall/winter program Structures and Strictures.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 75


Course Reference Numbers

Jr (16 credits): 30083
Sr (16 credits): 30084

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