Jewish Mathematicians in German Speaking Academic Culture

Jewish Mathematicians in German Speaking Academic Culture

Transcending Tradition: Jewish Mathematicians in German-Speaking Academic Culture showcases the astonishing contributions of Jewish thinkers to mathematical culture in Germany before the Nazis decimated their ranks.

As Transcending Tradition makes clear through a wealth of photographs and documents, much of mathematical life pre-1933 was in fact a German-Jewish mathematical life. For decades before their expulsion and extermination by the Nazis, Jewish mathematicians played key roles in the vibrant German-speaking mathematical world.

Transcending Tradition highlights their pivotal roles in teaching and research, in professional organizations, and throughout mathematical culture, from academic to popular.

The narrative traces 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 Emmy Noether, 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. Among the legendary mathematicians spotlighted: Richard von Mises, Max Dehn, Richard Courant, Otto Blumenthal, Felix Hausdorff, Hermann Minkowski, and John von Neumann.

The exhibition highlights two points in particular. First, during the period in question, there was probably no part of the academic culture of mathematics in which Jewish mathematicians were not actively involved. In the Wilhelmine Empire and the Weimar Republic Jewish mathematicians worked in research, teaching, and publishing, they were active in professional organizations like the German Mathematical Society, and they participated in the public discourse on mathematics. They contributed to shaping the German-speaking mathematical culture of their time. Second, their activities were so varied and multifaceted, that every stereotype of a “Jewish” style in mathematics is immediately refuted.

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Jewish Mathematicians in German Speaking Academic Culture
Event Category: Museum
When: October 9, 2013 ~ January 5, 2014
Where: Yeshiva University Museum
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