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OOOrrrr000 D000 000SEMINAR SYLLABUS
MATHEMATICAL FICTION
Mathematical Systems
Spring 2010
Class Times: Wednesdays 10a12p in Sem2 D3107
Credit: 4 credits, which will not be upperdivision science credits.
Texts & Readings:
Week 1: Borges stories (The Library of Babel, Borges and Myself, The Aleph) and Fishers Borges: `Algebra and Fire`; The Library of Babel is Chapter 26 in Imaginary Numbers, and the rest will be available on the program website
Week 2: Fruchts Imaginary Numbers, Chapters 15, 711, 13, and 1518
Week 3: Fruchts Imaginary Numbers, Chapters 1925 and 2731, and Egans Luminous (available on the program website)
Week 4: Abbotts Flatland and Burgers Sphereland
Week 5: selections from Hofstadters Gdel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid (available on the program website)
Week 6: selections from the Oulipo (available on the program website)
Week 7: Auburns Proof , Stoppards Arcadia, other readings TBA
Week 8: Jonkes Geometric Regional Novel
Week 9: Lightmans Einsteins Dreams
Week 10: student work
The assigned reading must, of course, be done before you come to seminar.
Description:
We have two hours per week, 10a12p on Wednesday, to spend on this subject. Well also devote some time to seminar at the retreat. The overarching question of this quarter, which we should stay focused on as we read each of these texts is: What are the ways in which mathematical ideas can guide or influence works of fiction? Well see that there are a number of very different ways in which this can happen. By paying attention to this issue well learn more about both literature and the nature of mathematics.
Student Facilitation:
Each student, alone or with one other person, will act as seminar facilitator for one seminar this quarter. As facilitator, it will be your job to guide the seminar; this may mean providing discussion questions or planning a structure for the seminar. It's up to you to help the class get the most out of the seminar and the week's reading. As facilitator, you'll also be expected to provide writing questions for the beginning of seminar. I'll be happy to meet with you to discuss your plan for your week's seminar.
Seminar Papers:
Youre required to write a short (at least one full page) paper responding to each weeks reading, due at the beginning of the corresponding seminar. Each paper should focus on a single main idea and explore the reading in some meaningful way, with significant reference to and/or use of the text. In writing these papers, you are expected to adhere to the principles of proper grammar and usage.
The Essay/Work of Fiction:
You will be required to write a 46 page thesisbased essay exploring the role of mathematics in literature. Your essay should reflect careful reading and analysis of our seminar texts, using quotes (and appropriate citations) from several of them to illustrate your claims. In writing your essay, you are expected to adhere to the principles of proper grammar and usage. If you want help improving your paper, I encourage you to visit the Evergreen Tutoring Center in CAB 108.
Alternatively, you may instead write a short (at least 5page) work of fiction that uses mathematical concepts in at least one significant way, as well as a brief (at least 1page) explication of the uses of mathematics in your work of fiction. In planning and composing this work, think about how mathematics can influence the process of writing, the formal qualities of the resulting text, and the reader's experience. The mathematical concepts you choose to incorporate should determine or relate to the theme of the work; your work should be guided by your mathematical and thematic choices at every level. If you choose this option, please meet with me by the end of Week 7 to discuss your ideas.
The essay/work of fiction will be due on May 28, the Friday of Week 9.
Portfolio:
You are expected to include your weekly seminar papers and your essay/work of fiction in your final portfolio. You may also choose to include other relevant materials, such as your notes on the readings or notes from seminar.
Attendance:
You are expected to attend all class meetings. Attendance in seminar is particularly important, since the seminar experience is a creation of the whole class. Everybody misses out when you miss seminar!
Credit:
To receive credit, you must attend all class meetings, submit the writing assignments on time, and submit a complete portfolio.
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