Fifteen Eighty Four


Tag Archives: MAA

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  • 17 Feb 2010

    A Q&A with Thomas Banchoff and William Lindgren

    Thomas Banchoff and William Lindgren recently signed copies of their new edition of Flatland at the MAA Conference. Their new edition of the classic Victorian satire is full of annotations for those less familiar with Victorian society or with the mathematical allegories involved. Here's a Q&A our own Laura Evans conducted with them: Laura: Do you think Abbott's social observations apply to today's society? Banchoff & Lindgren: Some of the depictions of life in Flatland respond to specific conditions in Victorian England, which are now mainly of historical interest. Nevertheless, many of the topics of Abbott's satire remain relevant, for example, the superficiality of what passes for knowledge, the unreflecting deference to prevailing opinions and authority, and the treatment of women. Flatland women are mere (one-dimensional) line segments, a fitting representation of their relegation to the narrowly defined role of child-bearers and housekeepers. Polygons with so many sides that they are indistinguishable from circles have a vested interest in maintaining their power, something as true about our leaders today as it was in Abbott's time.

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