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Student Research Projects

Women in Mathematics: Challenging Gender Typecasting in David Auburn's Proof

Student Kelli Karcher
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Sally Shedd
Department Theatre
Course TH 375: Images of Women in Theater and Film

Abstract

As a woman about to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, the prejudice faced by my gender within the field of mathematics holds special interest with me. David Auburn's play Proof speaks about this same prejudice, by depicting its main character, Catherine, as continually underestimated in spite of her mathematical genius, as evidenced by the proof she must use to gain access to the male-dominated mathematical community. However, the audience understands by the end of the play, that its title, Proof, not only refers to the proof that allows Catherine to access the mathematical community, but also the proof she must provide that she belongs there.

My research explores the representation of the character Catherine, specifically by examining her mathematical ability, her seemingly unnecessary dependence on man, the overall depiction of women as underrepresented and unappreciated in the field of mathematics, and the difficulty of both genders in accepting her mathematical prowess. Through this exploration I seek to actively engage the reader by exposing his/her innate bias towards women in the field of mathematics. I also compare the play to its film adaptation, and explore how the differences between such are used to further expose prejudice towards women.

Awards

VWC Undergraduate Research - Humanities Divisional Award

 

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