The Romance of Mathematics
Being the Original Researches of a Lady Professor of Girtham College in Polemical Science, with some Account of the Soc
- 22124 Words
- Ages 18 and up
The Reverend Peter Hampson Ditchfield (1854-1930) was the author of many novels and histories, including this odd piece that claims to be compiled from the lecture notes and diaries of a "lady professor", which must have been a very odd idea at the time. Many explicit formulas and references to things such as conic sections attest to the fact that the "lady" (as well as the author) really knows something about math, but I suppose the fact that she keeps addressing questions of culture and politics through them are supposed to be a nod to her "feminine" side.
The author's intentions are obscure today, but I have been convinced by Amber Cheslak, a student in my Math in Fiction course, that Ditchfield was in fact parodying the notion that a woman could do mathematics. Her ideas are intended to seem quaint at best (certainly not brilliant), and the conclusion in which she quits her academic job to marry a former student is probably supposed to represent a return to the natural order of the universe. [more]