The following Independent Study is a historical analysis of a trend of twentieth century ideologies, starting with Nicolas Bourbaki, that sought to apply strict methods of organization founded in the logic of Set Theory. I first study the history and the works of Nicolas Bourbaki before drawing connections to other topics. Nicolas Bourbaki is a pseudonym for a group of French mathematicians who tried to reorganize the elements of mathematics in the disorder of the early twentieth century. When mathematicians and policy makers in America and abroad felt that mathematics education was inadequate, many turned to Bourbaki's methods. To better understand how methods have evolved, I examine several expositions of Set Theory. Bourbaki's efforts influenced not only mathematicians and scientists, but also academics working in the humanities. French literary group Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (OuLiPo) worked with elements of writing to explore potential modes of creating literature. By describing the various means of employing elements in separate cases, I consider different methods to understand how certain constraints may be better suited for distinctive goals.


Durham, Carolyn

Second Advisor

Pierce, Pamela


French and Francophone Studies; Mathematics



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2012 Daniel Pierce