‘Transcending Tradition’ exhibit extended

The international exhibition Transcending Tradition: Jewish Mathematicians in German-Speaking Academic Culture opened in the U.S. on October 4, 2012 with a celebration at the John Crerar Library from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. 

Felix Hausdorff portrait

Felix Hausdorff became a professor of mathematics at the University of Bonn during the Weimar Republic and was active as a philosophical novelist and man of letters. Copyright: Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn, Nachlass Hausdorff. Used with permission.

Transcending Tradition presents the life and works of Jewish mathematicians in Germany. Spanning a period of 150 years, it documents their emergence from segregation into the academic limelight, recalls their emigration, flight or death after 1933, and illuminates their lasting legacies.

The exhibition highlights the key role of Jewish mathematicians in German-speaking academic culture before 1933 – in teaching and academic research, in professional organizations and throughout mathematical culture, from academic to popular. A wealth of pictures and documents trace many moving lives: young researchers who helped shape modern mathematics and physics, scholars who went beyond mathematics and made their mark in literature or philosophy, and the story of the most important female mathematician of the 20th century. It explores the places and historical contexts and presents the actors and their contributions with scholarly precision and a compassionate eye for individuals and their fates.

Designed by a group of seven historians of mathematics in cooperation with the Jewish Museum Frankfurt and the German Mathematical Society, the exhibition was displayed in Israel before coming to the U.S.

Noether and friends

Emmy Noether (1882-1935; pictured center) was a Göttingen mathematician of great distinction. Like all other Jewish mathematicians, Noether was expelled from her university after the rise of the Nazis to power. She emigrated to the U.S.A., where she taught at Bryn Mawr College until her death in 1935. Copyright: Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach. Used with permission.

The October 4 opening celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m. with remarks by Judith Nadler, Director and University Librarian, The University of Chicago; Robert J. Zimmer, President, The University of Chicago; Silvan Schweber, Professor of Physics and Koret Professor of the History of Ideas, Emeritus, Brandeis University, who will speak on “The Bethes and German Jewish Culture”; Robert A. Fefferman, Dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences, the University of Chicago; Christian Brecht, German Consul General to the Midwest; and Moritz Epple, Professor of History of Science, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.  A reception and viewing of the exhibition will follow from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Individuals planning to attend the opening celebration are encouraged to register at http://uchic.ag/transcend-trad by September 26 if possible.

The exhibition runs through Spring 2013, at the John Crerar Library, 5730 S. Ellis Avenue, Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  It and related events at the University of Chicago are sponsored by the University of Chicago Library, the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies, the Division of the Physical Sciences, the Department of Germanic Studies, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, and the Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Chicago, the John Crerar Foundation, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe Institut, Deutsche Telekom Stiftung, and the Hausdorff Research Institute for Mathematics. Further support has been received from the Leibniz Prize funds awarded to Wolfgang Lück.

For more information about associated upcoming lectures by Hanna Holborn Gray, President Emerita and Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of the University of Chicago, and Sander Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University, visit  tt.lib.uchicago.edu.  For further information about the international exhibition, visit www.gj-math.de

Hilbert with friends

From left to right: Alfréd Haar, Franz Hilbert, Hermann Minkowski, unknown, Käthe Hilbert, David Hilbert, Ernst Hellinger. Göttingen was considered the mecca of mathematics in the early 20th century. The city achieved its international renown largely due to the influence of David Hilbert and Felix Klein, as well as many other significant Jewish mathematicians and physicists. More than a few of Hilbert’s 73 doctoral students were Jewish, including Otto Blumenthal, Max Dehn, Felix Bernstein, Ernst Hellinger, Alfréd Haar, Richard Courant, Hugo Steinhaus, and Jacob Grommer. This extremely productive period came to an abrupt end with their exclusion and expulsion after 1933.

3/6/2013 update: The exhibition’s stay at Crerar Library has been extended into Spring 2013.

This entry was posted in Exhibits, Feature Story, General News, Science. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • RSS Feed
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter