
Approaching a scholar biographically ‐ making the individual the focal
point ‐
allows for the tracing of an arc across academic developments, personal
shaping possibilities, disciplinary interventions, and political change. In
my presentation, Emmy Noether's area of expertise ‐ algebra ‐,
her middle‐class Jewish upbringing, her situation as a female scholar,
and the changes to
Germany's academic structures following the Nazis' seizure of power
in 1933
all intersect. This captures my methodological approach at the interface of
the history of mathematics, theory of science, and gender studies.
Emmy Noether (18821935) and the school she formed have contributed
substantively to the introduction of new approaches and methodological
concepts under the heading of "modern algebra". Modern algebra
here should be understood both as a mathematical discipline and as a
holistic perspective on mathematics. Emmy Noether stands for these
"methods of working and of thinking" developed in the 1920s and
1930s, which have often been called "abstract" or "axiomatic" and were met with skepticism by contemporaries.
There were never any doubts about Noether's mathematical expertise, yet her
biography is one of professional discrimination, marginalization within her
discipline, and late fame. How, under these circumstances, did Noether succeed
in forming a school and effectually change mathematical ways of thinking?
I will give a summary of Emmy Noether's biography, an introduction to her way
of thinking, and a short overview of the Noether School in its personal,
spatial, and temporal dimensions. Concluding remarks show the breadth of the
influence of the Noether School in changing the mathematical way of thinking,
which can be captured by the words "modernization" and
"algebraization".
