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The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God


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Table of Contents

1. Engaging in a Conversation
2. Catholicisms
3. Trees of Knowledge
4. Choices
5. A List of Books
6. Calculus for the Believer
7. A New Female Mind

Promotional Information

The fascinating true story of mathematician Maria Agnesi.

About the Author

Massimo Mazzotti is a professor of the history of science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is the director of the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society. He is the editor of Knowledge as Social Order: Rethinking the Sociology of Barry Barnes.


Mazzotti's text is many things: well written, historically detailed, and descriptive. What stands out is his depiction of Maria Gaetana Agnesi as humble, kind, and mathematically talented.

* Convergence *

A welcome contribution to both an understanding of Maria Agnesi and life in the 1700s.

* Choice *

A nuanced and well-documented historical narrative that restores to us a key personage in eighteenth-century science and spirituality, combining cultural and political history with the history of the family.

* Catholic Historical Review *

Mazzotti's book succeeds admirably in pushing beyond this summary judgment-the same that judges her curve 'insignificant'-to find in Agnesi's approach to mathematics a way to open a whole world of eighteenthcentury life and thought that supported her choices.

* Isis *

Mazzotti's account of the rise and fall of a relatively non-gendered intellectual environment in the early eighteenth century thus sheds light on a rare instance in which the Catholic Church actually advocated women's equality. The strangeness of that phenomenon alone renders his work an interesting addition to the history of science.

* British Journal for the History of Science *

This book is both a life and a times; it will have many readers.

* American Historical Review *

Mazzotti's treatment of her is by far the most sophisticated biography that we have of this fascinating woman . . . His book is a cultural history of mathematics at its best.

* Historia Mathematica *

The overall result is micro-history at its best, and a history of mathematics that is narrated, as it always should be, through the broader history of the people and places that made this particular science what it is.

* The Mathematical Intelligencer *

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