|Instructor: Allen J.
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: Lib 3210
| CRN: 40131
M through Th, 9a to1p
Lab I 1047
8 credits, first session
An ancient Greek story about the relationship between humanity, the beast, knowledge, the divine, heroism, survival, and everything else, basically, takes place in a labyrinth. Evidently, lots of important things are happening in those
twisty corridors, and we are going to find out about someof them.
The story of Theseus, the Minotaur, Daedalus, Icarus, and the labyrinth will be a good starting point to explore the labyrinth as a widespread image in literature and culture. I am interested in the labyrinth as a metaphor for the scientific method and in particular of the mathematical method of representing the world.
Jorge Luis Borges used the labyrinth as a central image again and again in his stories. I read Borges again and again because I love his work. Last quarter I used Labyrinths in a program – hence, I am using Borges again in this program.
Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose is a tabloid, literary, theological, historical thriller: mysterious Latin passages! monk murdered in barrel of pig blood! an actual labyrinth! secret code! the Inquisition! visions of the end of the world! Need I say more?
Perceived from outside the field, mathematics can appear to be a vast, threatening maze of arcane symbols and procedures. But that shouldn’t stop us from plunging headlong into it anyway. A little geometry, a little work with numbers, and some basic code making/breaking and we’re done. All in good fun, of course.
There will be seminar papers, homework, group presentations, individual final projects, and a potluck. There may be a field trip. Oh, and we will (hopefully) build a labyrinth on the campus.
Jorge Luis Borges
The Name of the Rose
Publisher: Harvest Books; (September 1994)
The Key to the Name of the Rose
Adele J. Haft, et. al.
Publisher: University of Michigan Press; (August 1999)
Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing
Publisher: Dover Pubns; (October 1984)