Extra Credit: Mathematical Napoleon

Dr. Cynthia Woodburn of the PSU Math Dept will present a colloquium entitled Napoleon and Mathematics: A Case Study of the Interplay between Mathematics and History
Abstract: Throughout the ages, there has been much interplay between mathematics and history.  Not only can the work done by mathematicians have an impact on history but mathematicians also can have their work influenced by their time and place in history.  We’ll take a look at one specific case where mathematics and history are closely intertwined which occurred in the time of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. in Yates Hall 215
Students are encouraged to attend.
There will be cookies and conversation afterwards in Yates 210.

Missing Lectures: Tegrity Capture

As you know, I’m not going to be in class Friday October 8 or Monday October 11. However, that’s no reason to lose ground! I’ve recorded lectures for both days through Tegrity, and you can find the recordings either in the Tegrity box in Angel or directly linked from here:

The Napoleon lecture is about 10 minutes short; the 19th century lecture is about 10 minutes long: together, they’re just right, almost exactly 100 minutes. Feel free to watch them at your leisure anytime before next Wednesday. I will make the powerpoints available as well, through the course page.

Napoleon and Typhus

With a combination of archaeology and medical forensics, a new theory of Napoleon’s defeat in Russia [via HNN] has emerged: typhus, spread by lice. This is interesting stuff, an important addition to the history of the era, and highlights the role of disease combined with modern organizations, not to mention the role of luck in military affairs. I’m not convinced yet that the weather and supply issues can be dismissed out of hand, but you can’t rely on journalistic accounts of scholarship to give you a really full picture of their argument, especially the balance of causation.

Miscellaneous announcements: Guest Lectures, Test, Fun

We’ll have two guest lectures from PSU Grad student, military historian and WWII reenactor Dustin Strong: “Napoleon and his Wars” on October 9 and “WWII” on November 16. Mr. Strong’s lectures, like my own, are required, and I will expect to see his presentation reflected in your test answers and essays where appropriate. Mr. Strong has also announced two WWII reenactments open to the public as extra credit opportunities: Sept. 26-27 at Bristow Jones Memorial Airport (Bristow, OK) and Nov. 7 at Forest Park (Ottawa, KS). For the extra credit, include in your summary/reaction paper a description of the battle, and those of you doing WWII topics for your book review are strongly encouraged to talk to members of one of the units, as they are usually very well-informed on the equipment and history of the units they portray.

My apologies to the 2pm section for missing Monday: I have put the lecture outline online, so that anyone who missed class due to the weather or illness can review it. Those of you were there for the 11am class are welcome to look at it as well, obviously.

Regarding the Test on Monday, covering chapters 15 through 20, inclusive, and the lectures, the format will be very much like the pop quizzes: I will choose four or five (or six) terms from each chapter — the terms in the “Key Terms” lists, of course — to put on the test. From those, you will pick twelve (12) to answer: at least one from each of the six chapters, and the rest from any of the remaining terms. I will supply the test and paper; you bring something to write with and everything you can remember about the last month’s readings and lectures.

Finally, for fun, here’s pre-Revolutionary satires on French aristocratic hairstyles, including a recreation of the Battle of Bunker Hill [mildly adult content]. The one that made me laugh was the one with the hairdresser using a nautical navigational tool — the sextant — to arrange the hairstyle.