Great Circles

The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry

  • Emily Rolfe Grosholz

Part of the Mathematics, Culture, and the Arts book series (MACUAR)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. A Life in Mathematics and Poetry

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 3-18
    3. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 19-36
    4. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 37-59
    5. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 61-82
  3. The Homestead

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 83-83
    2. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 97-111
    3. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 113-125
  4. Shipping Out

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 127-127
    2. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 141-162
  5. The Sky’s the Limit!

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 179-179
    2. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 181-204
    3. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 205-230
    4. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 231-253
    5. Emily Rolfe Grosholz
      Pages 255-260
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 261-274

About this book


This volume explores the interaction of poetry and mathematics by looking at analogies that link them. The form that distinguishes poetry from prose has mathematical structure (lifting language above the flow of time), as do the thoughtful ways in which poets bring the infinite into relation with the finite. The history of mathematics exhibits a dramatic narrative inspired by a kind of troping, as metaphor opens, metonymy and synecdoche elaborate, and irony closes off or shifts the growth of mathematical knowledge.

The first part of the book is autobiographical, following the author through her discovery of these analogies, revealed by music, architecture, science fiction, philosophy, and the study of mathematics and poetry. The second part focuses on geometry, the circle and square, launching us from Shakespeare to Housman, from Euclid to Leibniz. The third part explores the study of dynamics, inertial motion and transcendental functions, from Descartes to Newton, and in 20th c. poetry. The final part contemplates infinity, as it emerges in modern set theory and topology, and in contemporary poems, including narrative poems about modern cosmology.


periodicity and symmetry algebraic topology poetic cosmology complex analysis relativity theory

Authors and affiliations

  • Emily Rolfe Grosholz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Mathematics and Statistics
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-98230-4
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-98231-1
  • Series Print ISSN 2520-8578
  • Series Online ISSN 2520-8586
  • Buy this book on publisher's site