Book chapters

'Two books on the elements of algebra', to be published in Mathematical Book Histories. Printing, Provenance, and Practices of Reading (Philip Beeley and Ciarán Mac an Bhaird, eds).

We examine two early nineteenth-century algebra textbooks held in the Russell Library: Bewick Bridge's Treatise on the Elements of Algebra and James Wood's Elements of Algebra. We consider their contents, their readership, and their place within nineteenth-century mathematical publishing.

'Mathematics at the Literary and Philosophical Societies', to be published in Beyond the Learned Academy. The Practice of Mathematics, 1600–1850 (Philip Beeley and Christopher Hollings, eds).

During the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, so-called Literary and Philosophical Societies (‘Lit & Phils’) emerged in many towns and cities across the British Isles. Their goal was to promote the understanding of a range of subjects at the local level, with science, broadly defined, usually being the major focus. The organizers of these societies often professed an interest in all strands of knowledge – including mathematics. In practice, however, the lecture programme of a typical Lit & Phil rarely featured topics that might permit any mathematical content, and where mathematics did appear, it was usually with a strongly practical or educational bias. Nevertheless, there are notable exceptions: the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, for instance, regularly featured lectures on mathematical topics. In this chapter, I offer a preliminary account of the handling of mathematics by a number of Lit & Phils, compare this briefly with the central position occupied by mathematics at meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and reflect on the disciplinary biases of these societies.

'Language use in Russian mathematics journals', to be published in Circulation des mathématiques dans et par les journaux: Histoire, territoires, publics (Hélène Gispert, Philippe Nabonnand and Jeanne Peiffer, eds).

The (linguistic) problems experienced by Western mathematicians in their attempts to access the mathematical work of the Soviet Union during the years of the Cold War are well documented. Nevertheless, there have been times over the past three centuries when Russian mathematicians have deliberately chosen to publish in Western European languages in order to increase their international readership. I will begin this chapter by surveying some of the mathematical journals that were available in/from Russia prior to the twentieth century, before considering the language policies of journals under the Soviet regime, with a particular focus on one journal: Matematicheskii sbornik. I adopt a data-led approach, whose pros and cons I assess at the end of the chapter.

'A century of astronomers: From Halley to Rigaud' (with Allan Chapman), Oxford's Savilian Professors of Geometry: The First 400 Years (Robin Wilson, ed), Oxford University Press, 2022, pp. 55–91.

The century between the Savilian Chairs of Halley and Rigaud was one of great activity in astronomy, and especially in Oxford, at a time when all the Geometry professors were primarily astronomers, and the Astronomy and Geometry Chairs were largely interchangeable. This chapter looks at the achievements, both mathematical and astronomical, of the occupants of the Geometry Chair, as well as those of some of their contemporaries, and puts paid to the myth that Oxford science was backward during the 18th century.