1st Edition

Reading Mathematics in Early Modern Europe
Studies in the Production, Collection, and Use of Mathematical Books

ISBN 9780367609252
Published October 21, 2020 by Routledge
348 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Libraries and archives contain many thousands of early modern mathematical books, of which almost equally many bear readers’ marks, ranging from deliberate annotations and accidental blots to corrections and underlinings. Such evidence provides us with the material and intellectual tools for exploring the nature of mathematical reading and the ways in which mathematics was disseminated and assimilated across different social milieus in the early centuries of print culture. Other evidence is important, too, as the case studies collected in the volume document. Scholarly correspondence can help us understand the motives and difficulties in producing new printed texts, library catalogues can illuminate collection practices, while manuscripts can teach us more about textual traditions. By defining and illuminating the distinctive world of early modern mathematical reading, the volume seeks to close the gap between the history of mathematics as a history of texts and history of mathematics as part of the broader history of human culture.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Did Euclid prove Elements I, 1? The early modern debate on intersections and continuity

Vincenzo De Risi

Chapter 2 Numbers and Paths: Henry Savile’s manuscript treatises on the Euclidean theory of proportion

Robert Goulding

Chapter 3 Reading by Drawing. The changing nature of mathematical diagrams in seventeenth-century England

Yelda Nasifoglu

Chapter 4 Interpreting Mathematical Error: Tycho’s problematic diagram and readers’ responses

Renee Raphael

Chapter 5 Reading Mathematics in the English Collegiate-Humanist Universities

Mordechai Feingold

Chapter 6 Tutor, Antiquarian, and Almost a Practitioner: Brian Twyne’s readings of mathematics

Richard J. Oosterhoff

Chapter 7 The Origin and Development of the Savilian Library

William Poole

Chapter 8 ‘A designe Inchoate’. Edward Bernard’s planned edition of Euclid and its scholarly afterlife in late seventeenth-century Oxford

Philip Beeley

Chapter 9 ‘The Admonitions of a good-natured Reader’: Marks of use in Georgian mathematical textbooks

Benjamin Wardhaugh

Chapter 10 Instrumental Reading: Towards a typology of use in early modern practical mathematical texts

Boris Jardine

Chapter 11 ‘Several Choice Collections’ in Geometry, Astronomy, and Chronology: Using and collecting mathematics in early modern England

Kevin Tracey

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Philip Beeley is research fellow and tutor in the Faculty of History and Fellow of Linacre College, University of Oxford. The focus of his research and publications is on correspondence networks and the history of mathematics in the seventeenth century.

Yelda Nasifoglu is a historian of early modern mathematics and architecture, and an associate member of the Faculty of History, University of Oxford. Her research interests include mathematical diagrams, non-representational uses of drawing, and book collecting practices in the early modern period.

Benjamin Wardhaugh is a historian and author based in Oxford, UK, and a former fellow of All Souls College. His interests range across the history of mathematics and the ways mathematics has been part of human cultures.


"This volume meets the highest standards for an academic publication, whilst remaining very accessible for the general reader. This book should definitely be read by all those interested in the history of mathematics in the Early Modern Period and in fact by anybody interested in the history of mathematics." Thony Christie, The Renaissance Mathematicus