The Shapes of Our Souls and Other Student Concerns: Poems about the Course “Mathematics in Literature”

Marion Deutsche Cohen
Proceedings of Bridges 2015: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2015)
Pages 511–514 Short Papers


Six years ago, at Arcadia University in Glenside PA, I developed a course called Truth and Beauty: Mathematics in Literature. In this course we study poetry and fiction that is inspired by or connects with mathematics. We also study the math with which our readings connect. Mainly, I try to convey to students that all three — math, literature, and our lives, outer and inner — are very often related. In particular I, as a mathematician/poet, have used images from math to express what I feel. In the homework questions and class conversations I encourage but don't require students to share their own experiences, lives, and thoughts, and I share mine. The sharing in the homework complements the sharing in our class conversations. Students have said and written some very cool things, and so have I! I hope that, in these poems, I have achieved a balance between student and professor coolness, and expressed the insight and communication that have taken place in this course.