Summer 2023 - MATH 895 G200

Reading (4)

Class Number: 2204

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 25 – Aug 10, 2023: Tue, Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.



The course consists of readings illustrating different issues in the writing of the history of modern mathematics. Responding to the norms of the historical profession more generally, historians of mathematics use a variety of tools and methods to analyze and depict the past. History of mathematics is also frequently tinged with philosophical issues of various kinds.


In addition to meeting roughly weekly to discuss readings, students will write a major paper (ca 25 pp) discussing history and historiography in an area of their interest, subject to approval by the course director. The course aims to build on existing student interest. We will initially plan to focus on the transition from the early modern to the modern period, concentrating on Europe but with some examination of Japanese and Chinese materials.


  • Required 25-p paper 60%
  • Seminar presentations (approx 4 at 10% each) 40%


Prerequisites: Clearly demonstrated interest in the history of mathematics, as demonstrated for example by being enrolled in a program where work in this area is a focal point.



Reading selections will include: samples of biographical writing (Parshall on Sylvester, Grafton on Cafrdano); historical prefaces and commentary on edited mathematical texts (Nabonnand on Poincaré); adaptation of tools from the history and philosophy of science (Epple on epistemic configurations and school formation in topology, following
Rheinberger); reception studies (Goldstein and Schappacher); work from social history (Turner on the nineteenth century research imperative in mathematics, Tazzioli on WWI); the understanding of mathematics in a given time as related to a set of practices (Mancosu, Høyrup, Yates); microhistorical studies (Rowe, Ginzburg); works contextualizing the thought of major figures (Bos on Descartes, Guicciardini on Newton); works analyzing aspects of ongoing interest to historians and
philosophers (Rabouin and Arthur on Leibniz).
Additional or alternative material will be selected in line with student research interests


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


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