Sometimes two very unlikely things have more in common than once believed. Upon taking a closer look we discover they participate in a hushed relationship. You may think it odd two such vastly contrasting disciplines as literature and mathematics could marry inside the house of logic and academia, but this is precisely what Stephanie Alcantar—Graduate School Dean’s Fellow, PhD candidate, poet, mathematician, and sunset and coffee enthusiast—has dedicated her studies to demonstrating. She is both a storyteller and a calculator. The story she wants to tell you is math and literature’s unlikely love affair.
Alcantar graduated in 2011 with a bachelor of arts in applied mathematics at the Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango in Durango, Mexico. After completing her MA in Spanish at the University of Cincinnati, she entered UC’s doctoral program in romance languages and literatures. Her dissertation is titled, “Redefining the Limits of Language and Representation. A Semiotic Study of the Use of the Mathematical Concepts Infinity, Center, and Limit in Literature.” Her hypothesis is this: the combination of mathematics and literature provides special benefits to creative writing, specifically to language. In Alcantar’s own words, “Literature must resort to [mathematics] to help blur its limits of representation and expose the reader to an unprecedented experience. Math drives language to unexplored grounds.”