Thomas Harriot Summer Series 2021

Love deciphering old mysteries and learning about early science?
Know a thing or two about mathematics or manuscripts?
Miss being part of an in-person community of scholars who look beyond their discipline?

Join us!

Friday June 18th – Friday July 2nd

MWF – Noon to 1PM
Hesburgh Library
Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship
Visualization Lab – Room 249

Who we are

We are a group of graduate, postdoctoral, and faculty researchers from across the humanities and STEM, interested in the unique manuscript work of Thomas Harriot (1560-1621), one of the founders of modern algebra, one of the first translators of the Carolina Algonquian language, and one of the first men to look at the moon through a telescope.

We are mathematicians, literary scholars, historians of science, programmers, and librarians. We welcome participants from all disciplines.

What we do

In our 60-minute lunch sessions, we collaborate convivially on short selections of Harriot’s manuscripts in an attempt to understand the content and context of his writings, his illustrations, his personal notes, and even his doodles. We use traditional methods of paleography (the study of ancient handwriting) and good old fashioned pencil-and-paper math together with innovative digital tools such as IIIF image viewing and annotation technology to facilitate our work.

Our theme

Our theme this year is the use of digital pedagogy to enhance the teaching of mathematics. In the wake of the pandemic, average math scores in the country have plummeted, and college educators face steep challenges recovering the deficit. We especially welcome STEM researchers who have an interest in using historical materials and digital tools to enliven and enhance teaching, as well as early-modernists and medievalists who want to integrate paleography and/or the cultural history of mathematics in their courses.

Harriot Quatercentenary

He preferred life to fame.

That’s how the Harvard scholar Stephen Greenblatt explains why many of us have never heard of Thomas Harriot (1560-1621), a mathematician, seafarer, and astronomer caught up in the turbulent times of early modern science. Known to some as the “English Galileo,” Harriot was the first to make telescopic observations of the Moon and map its surface and among the earliest in Christian Europe to uphold and mathematize atomic theories of matter. In 2021, 400 years afters his death, it is high time we made sense of his rich legacy to applied and theoretical mathematics and physics. Come help us figure out what on earth he was talking about.