Arielle Saiber
Bowdoin College
Well-Versed Mathematics in Early Modern Italy

An assistant professor of Italian at Bowdoin College, Arielle Saiber’s research focuses on how mathematics impacts and infiltrates the literary imagination. In her forthcoming book, “Giordano Bruno's Geometry of Language,” she looks at the elaborate method by which this sixteenth-century polymath fused the “figurative” languages of geometry and rhetoric to articulate notions as varied as the pitfalls of pedantry and the infinity of the universe.

While a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Saiber will be working on a manuscript that explores mathematics’ wide and varied influence on early modern Italian literature. She will discuss works by authors “well versed” in mathematics, such as Leon Battista Alberti and Torquato Tasso, showing how their writing consciously incorporated elements from three different mathematical paradigms: the recovered mathematics of antiquity; the advances, debates, and unsolved problems in mathematics and the mathematical sciences; and the mystical aesthetic and religious notions of number, shape, and space that characterized thought before the Scientific Revolution.

Saiber earned her PhD in Italian literature from Yale University in 1999. Her dissertation on Giordano Bruno received the Field Prize for the best “scholarly work of poetry, literature, or religion” at Yale for the year 2000. She has been a fellow at the Folger Institute and at the Instituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici. She coedited the anthology Images of Quattrocento Florence: Selected Writings in Literature, History, and Art (Yale University Press, 2000) and currently serves on the executive committee of the Modern Language Association's Division of Literature and Science.

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.