“It’s for Fellows Only!”: On the Postcolonial Stance of Matthew Brown’s Maths Film The Man Who Knew Infinity

  • Norbert Schaffeld
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


This chapter explores a slightly fictionalised phase in the history of mathematics in which two famous but highly diverse representatives of the discipline meet. One is the self-taught Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887–1920) and the other is G.H. Hardy (1877–1947), distinguished professor at the University of Cambridge. Based on a critical analysis of Matthew Brown’s biographical film The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015), starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, the chapter discusses the film’s postcolonial stance which uses temporal connectivity as well as discursive aspects to support a universal reading. Schaffeld claims that the aim to reinvest the spatio-temporal frame of life in Cambridge during the First World War with today’s problems of racism and institutional exclusion reveals a distinctive feature of this maths film.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norbert Schaffeld
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BremenBremenGermany

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