American Literature Mid-Year Exam Part I – Math, Education, Society and The Age of Reason
Instructions <ul><li>This PowerPoint presentation includes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pictures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Articles </li></ul></ul><ul><li>which you have not seen before – they’re located on the Moodle page </li></ul>
<ul><li>In addition to using PowerPoint to look at the pictures, you will need to use MS Word or Adobe Reader to read the articles. (You can also print them out, if you wish.) </li></ul><ul><li>You may find it easier to switch back and forth between this presentation and the articles. </li></ul><ul><li>From time to time in this presentation, you will be asked to open a particular document in Word. </li></ul>
The Enlightenment <ul><li>Recall that we said that the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment referred to roughly the same period ( 1650-1798 ) </li></ul><ul><li>It was a period of time when educated men believed that the principles of science and math were connected to all facets of life: politics, philosophy, art, even religious thought </li></ul>
<ul><li>Let’s take music, for example: </li></ul><ul><li>The person who discovered that octaves and chords are based on precise, whole number mathematical ratios was Pythagoras (approx. 500 B.C.) </li></ul><ul><li>He was also responsible, as you know, for the principle behind the Pythagorean theorem: </li></ul>
<ul><li>So, even 2,500 years ago, it seemed reasonable that a mathematician would also be interested in music. </li></ul><ul><li>By the time the Age of Reason rolled around, the connection was spread to every part of life. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, in the late 1600’s an Englishman named Robert Fludd compared God’s universe to a single-stringed instrument called the MONOCHORD : </li></ul>
(the next few slides show more detail) The “cosmic monochord” is supposed to show how far the planets, sun, stars, and heaven (including the angels at “gg”) are from Earth (“Terra” at the bottom).
<ul><li>Though Fludd’s model was obviously a bit silly even to the men of the 1700’s, it demonstrates to what degree the men of the time believed all things were connected. </li></ul><ul><li>After all, the great astronomer Johannes Kepler (remember him?) originally believed that the distances between the planets were based on the ratios of the “Platonic Solids”: </li></ul>
Plato considered the cube to be connected to the Earth, so Kepler speculated that the distances between us and the other planets might be based on the relative distances between all the Platonic solids if they were nested inside each other . He abandoned this idea when it turned out that most of it didn’t match his measurements. (It’s interesting to note that some of it did fit.)
<ul><li>But when he finally did figure it out, the law governing planetary motion was still mathematical </li></ul>NOTE: Kepler had some difficulty convincing others of his discovery because “heavenly bodies” like planets were supposed to travel in perfect circles . Since an ellipse is not perfect, it didn’t fit with the classical view of the cosmos…but that’s for another time.
<ul><li>O.K. So…the “classical” view of the universe (that is, the view of the great Roman and Greek philosophers) meant that everything was in harmony : math, music, astronomy, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>And the men of the Enlightenment wanted to be as intellectual as the Greek and Roman philosophers they admired and looked upon as the greatest thinkers of all time. </li></ul><ul><li>For this Mid-Term, we’ll focus on the connection between the Enlightenment in America and Architecture … </li></ul>
<ul><li>So…let’s move on to the Founding Fathers , in particular Thomas Jefferson, who was an architect…among other accomplishments. </li></ul><ul><li>As both a man of the Enlightenment and the author of the Declaration of Independence , Jefferson wanted to connect science to politics. </li></ul>
<ul><li>As we discussed in class, the Declaration of Independence is constructed as a scientific paper , because that would be the most convincing format in 1776. As Jefferson said, the purpose of the Declaration was </li></ul><ul><ul><li>"To place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent." </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In other words, he wrote it to convince other Enlightenment men that he was right – therefore, it had better have some “scientific basis.” </li></ul>
<ul><li>Switch to WORD and read the following articles: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“The Founding Fathers and Classics” and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Thomas Jefferson and mathematics” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Then return to this presentation </li></ul>
<ul><li>O.K., so Jefferson had some very formal ideas about education. Which makes sense, when you think about it, because he was interested in FORM (that is, structure). </li></ul><ul><li>Platonic solids have form and structure , in fact, they are defined by their structure. </li></ul>
<ul><li>So, when Jefferson set out to design the University of Virginia , he wanted to create an architecture that reflected his philosophy of education. In other words, he believed that certain geometric forms were symbolically linked with the purpose and function of a university . (He was prouder of having designed the university than we was of being President.) </li></ul><ul><li>Study the following pictures, diagrams, and drawings of Jefferson’s design for the University of Virginia, and speculate why he designed them the way he did. </li></ul>
<ul><li>This is the main Rotunda of the Univ. of VA. It houses the main Lecture Hall. </li></ul><ul><li>Note that the dome looks like the top of a sphere. If it were extended so that it actually was a sphere, what would it look like? Where would the bottom be? </li></ul>
<ul><li>This is a one of the original drawings of the Rotunda. The inside walls of the Rotunda are not curved in toward the base, but if they were they’d look like the dotted lines in the drawing. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Note the scale of people to the edifice. What does that imply? </li></ul><ul><li>Besides being classical Greek and Roman, what qualities are symbolized by the triangular area? (note: its called an “entabulature”) </li></ul>
<ul><li>This is a copy of one of Jefferson’s original sketches for the University </li></ul><ul><li>The red arrow points to the Rotunda. </li></ul><ul><li>The blue arrows point to the classrooms, and apartments of the faculty </li></ul><ul><li>The green arrow points to the opening at the end of this central area of the university. </li></ul><ul><li>Why would Jefferson design this quadrangle with one open end? </li></ul>
<ul><li>The top picture is a 19 th century drawing of Princeton University, the bottom is the University of Virginia, looking toward the Rotunda. </li></ul><ul><li>In conceptual terms, what is the most striking difference between these two designs? Does one appear more unified, more purposeful? Why? What contributes to this impression? </li></ul>
<ul><li>O.K., now read the document entitled: “Observations on Jefferson’s Design” </li></ul>(note: these circles were added by someone who wanted to show how “balanced” Jefferson’s designs were.)
<ul><li>Jefferson believed in harmony and unity and in the power of classical forms </li></ul><ul><li>However, as Rachel Fletcher points out, he also believed that America must continue to change and his design implied that “Jefferson believed that knowledge was constantly improving and that society ought to continually reinvent itself and its principles .” </li></ul><ul><li>Which brings us to the 21 st century and Frank Gehry… </li></ul>
<ul><li>Read the article entitled “Frank Gehry” to gain some insight and perspective on his work. </li></ul>
These are models of Gehry’s proposed museum in NYC which was cancelled and thoroughly criticized in the article you just read by Robert W. Tracinski . Note the Twin Towers in the background. The model on the right is, of course, superimposed over a photo from before 9-11.
Others see it as M.C. Escher’s ideas come to life…
<ul><li>Look over these and the other pictures of Gehry’s designs (use backspace or UP key). </li></ul><ul><li>Think about the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries </li></ul><ul><li>Do his designs reflect some aspect of modern life? </li></ul>
Modern technology has moved our ability to create geometric forms well beyond the Platonic solids and other classics of geometry….
<ul><li>Have these advances affected (or been affected by) our view of the world around us? </li></ul><ul><li>If so, do we need an architecture to reflect that view? </li></ul><ul><li>Does Gehry provide that? </li></ul><ul><li>Or should we return to the classical forms? </li></ul>
This…? The classic forms of “School of Athens” by Raphael
Or this…? The whimsy of Legos mixed with the math of Escher
<ul><li>ESSAY PROMPT: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In an essay of 3-4 pages, address the following: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>During the Age of Enlightenment, the leaders of America believed that the country was itself an example of the connection of various ideas. America was created because it was an inevitable consequence of the forces of the universe. In designing the University of Virginia, Jefferson wanted to create an educational institution that embodied these ides, right down to the design of the grounds and buildings. Explain what these elements were and how they might contribute to an ideal education in the 1800’s. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>THEN, speculate on Frank Gehry’s modern designs for education, entertainment and art. What do his designs reflect about modern life in America? Does the geometry of these buildings stem from the same kind of ideas as those that influenced Jefferson? Are these designs, in fact, an effective symbol for America in the 20 th century? And what influence will they, in turn, have on the people who visit and or work in his building? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Your essay must contain references to the material provided in this presentation. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a copy of this prompt on the Moodle site. DUE JAN 9 th -- though you can submit it anytime between now and then. </li></ul>