New Undergraduate Course Offering for Fall 2013: The History of Mathematics

NEW COURSE:  Fall 2013, MAT 301 (HA): The History of Mathematics, Tues & Thurs 1:30-2:50pm.Behind the famous names and seemingly-timeless theorems of your mathematics classes, there is a rich and fascinating history filled with controversies, blind alleys, fanciful inspirations, and social prerogatives. 
This seminar will examine themes and ideas from the history of mathematics spanning the entirety of human history, from the oldest surviving written texts (numbers on clay tablets) to the present, with a focus on the mathematics of modern Europe.
Topics will include the genres and uses of Ancient and Classical mathematics; the so-called "mathematization of nature" and its connection to philosophical and social values in the Early Modern period; ideas about mathematics, reason, and progress in connection with the Enlightenment and its aftermath; and the relations between modernism, abstraction, computing, and the social changes of the twentieth century.
Calculus is a prerequisite for the course, and those without exposure to abstract algebra and analysis should expect to do a little extra background reading in order to make the most of the last several weeks of the seminar.
However, the course is designed to be accessible to anyone with a familiarity with calculus and a desire to explore a branch of the history of knowledge that is rarely presented in undergraduate curricula. 
You will sharpen your ability to write about and critically interpret historical sources (especially mathematical ones), and gain an appreciation for the nuanced histories behind the clean presentations of mathematics textbooks.