Creative Writing in Mathematics and Science (06w5091)


Chandler Davis (University of Toronto)

The Writing & Publishing Department (The Banff Centre)

(Smith College)

Jan Zwicky (University of Victoria)


The stunning popularity of recent books, films, and plays about mathematics and science (and/or mathematicians and scientists) reveals a broad public interest in mathematical and scientific ideas. It also shows that gifted writers find in those ideas fertile seeds for their own creativity. Next week, June 17 - 22, poets, playwrights, fiction and nonfiction writers who treat mathematics and science in their work will join mathematicians who write creatively about their subject in an intensive workshop devoted to giving literary shape to mathematical and scientific ideas. The workshop is co-hosted by the Banff International Research Station and the Banff Centre's Program in Writing and Publishing.

Mathematicians and writers have much to teach and learn from one another, say the workshop's organizers (Chandler Davis and Marjorie Senechal, mathematicians and co-Editors-in-Chief of The Mathematical Intelligencer; Jan Zwicky, winner of the Governor General 's Award for Poetry; and Kim Mayberry of the Banff Centre). The mix of literary genres is also productive. Whether our goal is to create fictional or biographical portraits of mathematicians' lives and worries or to convey mathematical ideas in ways that bypass the usual formalism, there is an affinity in our objectives.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is administered by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, in collaboration with the Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems Network (MITACS), the Berkeley-based Mathematical Science Research Institute (MSRI) and the Instituto de Matematicas at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM).