MAA Short Course on Reading, Writing and Doing the History of Mathematics: Learning the Methods of Historical Research

This two-day Short Course on Reading, Writing and Doing the History of Mathematics: Learning the Methods of Historical Research is organized by Amy Shell-Gellasch, Montgomery College. Browse the mathematics section of your favorite book store or catalog and you will have noticed that over the past few decades, the offerings in the history of mathematics and its uses in teaching have skyrocketed. The history of mathematics has become an important component of the study of mathematics. More and more mathematicians are choosing to delve into the history of mathematics, either as a hobby or as a serious pursuit. Likewise, more and more schools are offering history of mathematics courses, and many states are now requiring it of their math education majors. Perhaps you have a growing interest in the field, simply as a consumer or perhaps you are a budding historian yourself. Or perhaps you are finding yourself using it in your teaching more and more. But just as the study of mathematics has rigorous methods that cannot be ignored without peril, so does historical study.

This Short Course will introduce participants to the methods of correct historical research in mathematics, as well as the theory and philosophy underlying accurate and unbiased historical research, analysis and reporting. We will address the following areas: Theories of history, cultural and temporal context, reading historical sources and translating, writing the history of mathematics, history compared to historiography, historical sources, and implications to pedagogy.

The course will consist of lectures by prominent historians, followed by participant workshops in which the participants will examine, analyze, and discuss examples of historical writings and results. We will conclude our course with a panel discussion by all of our experts to discuss how to implement these ideas into the mathematics classroom and the pedagogical implications of correct historical study. The speakers are all established and respected math historians who will share their particular expertise (please note that some talk titles are tentative): Ron Calinger, Catholic University of America, The contextualization of history; Joe Dauben, Lehman College, CUNY, Cultural bias and translations; Michael Fried, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, Our relationship to history: Who does history; Colin McKinney, Wabash College, Reading and translating without bias. The case of Euclid; Karen Parshall, University of Virginia, The reading and writing of history; and Fred Rickey, USMA, Historical documents and sources and implications to pedagogy.


There are separate registration fees to participate in this course. Advance registration (before December 24): Member US$159, Nonmember US$234; Student, unemployed, or emeritus US$81. Onsite registration: Member US$169; Nonmember US$244; Student, unemployed, or emeritus US$91. Advance registration for this course has closed; however, you can register onsite. The Registration Desk for the short courses will be located outside the Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor, Marriott Inner Harbor on Monday (1/13/14) from 7:30 a.m. - noon.