T.W. (Tom) Hedley MA


Tom holds a BA in German Studies and Mathematics from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and an MA in Comparative Literature from the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany, which was funded by the Germanic Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He is a final-year PhD student in the Department of Germanic Studies at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and recently completed a guest research stay at the Mathematics Institute at Utrecht University. Between September 2021 and January 2022, he was a Junior Fellow at the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosphy of Science. As of September 2022, he is a lecturer in the Comparative Literature department. 

Tom's PhD research explores the overlap between aesthetic modernism (modern literature, film and visual art) and modern mathematics (ca. 1890-1930), with particular focus on the representation/understanding of space and the role of language and objects in both domains. The aim of the project is to uncover common philosophical influences behind both literary/artisitc modernism and modern mathematics (Kant, Nietzsche, Cassirer etc.) and to show this backdrop also informs a commonality of expression, in particular with respect to the dynamics of change vs. continuity, metamorphosis and invariance, spatial interiority and exteriority. These analyses focus on writers like Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, Leo Perutz, Mela Hartwig and Irmgard Keun, filmmakers of the Weimar era, such as F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang, and intermedial artistic movements like Bauhaus and Dadaism. Throughout, the spatialities generated in these works are brought into conversation with wider social  structures at play in the modern epoch, from work and class stuggle to supposed paradigms shifts like 'New Woman' and women's emancipation. This PhD project is funded by the Irish Research Council.  

Regarding the potential overlap between mathematical thought and the creative arts, Tom is particularly interested in how challeneging lingering social inequalities (e.g. the underrepreseantation of women in mathematics) can help to uncover pathways towards a more meaningful interdisciplinary conversation — a topic he has explored in more informal research output, such as a podcast episode with historians of mathematics June Barrow-Green (Open University, UK), Mireia Martinez i Sellares (Utrecht University) and mathematics teacher Iseult O'Rourke. See: https:// soundcloud.com/tlrhub/tlrh-the-hublic-sphere-measuring-the-gap-the-gender-problem-in-mathematics. 

Aside from his PhD research, Tom has published and presented on contemporary German and (Northern) Irish representations of trauma, contested histories and the legacies of partition, from 'autofictional' and 'magical realist' responses to memory work in post-Holocaust, post-Cold War and post-Troubles writing and cinema (e.g. Herta Müller, Mark Cousins, Jan Carson and Anna Burns).