Math Class / No Measure
Date of Award
College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts
Creative writing, Fiction
“Math Class / No Measure” operates at the intersection of literature, mathematics, and science, and it contains three sections: two creative works and a critical apparatus. My novella, “Math Class,” portrays adolescence through mathematical concepts and diction. The narrative centers on sixteen-year-old Jo, who has been in a disfiguring accident, and her peers at St. Agatha’s, an all-girls Catholic high school. The “truth” or “proof” of something like mathematics, the closed lines of a figure on graph paper, is at odds with what it’s like to be sixteen. “Math Class” overlays these ideas in language that is incapable of truly capturing either mathematics or adolescent experience. The novella’s fragmented form and endnotes, like mirror images of a geometric transformation, allow the girls’ identities to take shape within and in defiance of institutional environments. The second creative project, “No Measure,” a series of prose poems, takes up scientific observation and documentation through point of view and landscape phenomenology. The desert setting is inspired by past and present industrial and ecological change and disaster, specifically addressing climate change, technological production, and desertification. Here, two entangled scientists attempt to measure, record, and modify a desert on all scales: from a wide valley to a grain of sand. In this work, I am especially interested in how desire might be thought of as a self-organized criticality and the ways in which permutations of scale can be rendered immeasurable by a series of prose poems. In the critical apparatus, “Gertrude Stein’s Semiotics of Number,” I analyze the mathematical elements of Stein’s writing as they relate to the conceptual and semiotic trouble of mathematics in language. I find that Stein’s semiotic and syntactic calls to quantification in her use of counting and number actually disallow her work from being counted—even in the instances of repetition for which she is most famous.
Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.
Received from author
Krumrie, Kelly, "Math Class / No Measure" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2190.