2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

Calculated Fiction

Spring quarter

Faculty: Steven Hendricks book arts, literature, creative writing, Brian Walter mathematics, computer science, improvisational theater

Fields of Study: literature, mathematics and writing

Spring: CRN (Credit) Level 30058 (16) Fr; 30059 (16) So - Sr  Conditions First year students do NOT need to apply in order to register. Sophomores, juniors and seniors must submit an application. Applications are available on the program web site http://blogs.evergreen.edu/calculatedfiction/. Applications received by or at the Academic Fair, March 2, 2011, will be given priority consideration. Qualified students will be accepted until the program fills.  

Credits: 16(S)

Class Standing: Freshmen - Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmenFreshmen - Senior

Offered During: Day

Academic Website: http://blogs.evergreen.edu/calculatedfiction/

Prerequisites: Strong algebra skills, strong reading and writing skills.


O Godiva, I could be bounded in a nympholepsy and count myself a kingfish of infinite spacemen. -Hamlet

Mathematical principles can provide the basis for creative writing, from the chance operations that generated the quote above to plot structures, themes, content, and even style. Author Italo Calvino views writing as a combinatorial game, an all but random process of associations and layers of implications that can lead to great works of literature as surely as nonsense. Calvino and others reveal that writing guided by abstract principles, particularly mathematical concepts and constraints, can lead to some of the most wondrous and provocative work. Jorge Luis Borges's stories provide numerous examples. In The Aleph, the narrator attempts to describe a location from which all places can be seen simultaneously: "Mystics, faced with the same problem, fall back on symbols: to signify the godhead, one Persian speaks of a bird that somehow is all birds; Alanus De Insulis, of a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere; Ezekiel, of a four-faced angel, who at one and the same time moves east and west, north and south." Works like The Aleph not only reflect mathematical concepts but also give them flesh, rendering those abstractions poetic and tangible.

Informed by the work of writers such as Borges and Calvino, we will construct fictional narratives that reflect or are governed by mathematical concepts. Students will be introduced to a wide range of mathematical and literary principles and practices. Using those tools, students will produce creative works rigorous in their literary content and thorough in their mathematical precision and depth. The program will also include book seminars, short papers, and workshops in literature, writing, and mathematics. Readings will introduce students to relevant historical and philosophical ideas, numerous examples of writing that fuses math and literature, and provocative mathematical concepts. Coursework will emphasize foundations and skill development in mathematics, creative writing, critical reading, argumentative writing, and literary theory.

Maximum Enrollment: 48

Required Fees: Spring $75 for a retreat.

Preparatory for studies or careers in: mathematics, literature, fiction writing and literary theory.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: Enhanced Online Learning

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program Revisions

Date Revision
March 23rd, 2011 Signature is no longer required for this program.