Numbers and Narratives

A Feminist Genealogy of Automathographies

Many thanks to the Leverhulme Trust for supporting this research with a

Major Research Fellowship

Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799)

Émilie du Châtelet (1706-1749)

This interdisciplinary research project is a critical investigation of women’s involvement in the field of mathematics. It addresses the socio-historical, political and cultural conditions of their exclusion and explores gendered trails in the process of becoming a woman mathematician. The research deploys novel ways of archival research in the era of the digital turn and opens up new paths of memory work in the field of gender and science studies. It deploys narrative analysis of six women mathematicians’ ‘ego’ documents, including autobiographies, diaries and letters, as well as their philosophical and literary writings. It draws on the notion of ‘automathographies’ from Paul Halmos influential book: ‘I want to be a mathematician: an automathography‘, particularly focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries.

Sofya Kovalevskaya(1850-1891)

Sophie Germain (1776-1831)