Abstract

Mid-sixteenth-century dialogues by Robert Recorde teach basic mathematics and allow a reader partially to construct and inhabit a mathematical identity—a subject position—appropriate to advanced work in mathematics through reorganization of the reader’s mind directed by an engagement with, absorption of, and finally independence from the instructing dialogues. This essay explains the mechanism used by the dialogues to accomplish this, and shows that Recorde’s deployments of eloquence, the ethos of the active life, and pedagogical conveniences conflict with mathematical rigor, almost resulting in the collapse of the project. The conclusion considers ways in which the mathematical reader may still benefit from Recorde’s efforts despite the indecorous intrusion of his personal difficulties into the dialogues.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6520
Print ISSN
1063-1801
Pages
pp. 53-84
Launched on MUSE
2013-08-27
Open Access
No
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