Thematic Einstein Forum on

Scales of Temporality: Modeling Time and Predictability in the Literary and the Mathematical Sciences

Winter Semester 2022/2023


The forum is organized within the framework of the Berlin Mathematics Research Center MATH+ in collaboration with the EXC 2020 “Temporal Communities” and supported by the Einstein Foundation Berlin.

We are committed to fostering an atmosphere of respect, collegiality, and sensitivity. Please read our MATH+ Collegiality Statement. 


Please register for updates on individual events throughout the semester and for further information via 

Scope of the Forum

The collaborative Thematic Einstein Forum Scales of Temporality: Modeling Time and Predictability in the Literary and the Mathematical Sciences is organized by the clusters of excellence MATH+ and Temporal Communities. It aims to explore shared interests, common grounds and similar problems both the mathematical sciences and the Humanities, particularly the philologies and the literary studies, entail.  

To enable this interdisciplinary approach, we want to address, compare and contrast mathematical and literary modes of time. How, for instance, do stories narrate succession, causation and the probable, and how do different modes of temporality inform dynamical systems and probability theory and their applicability? In addition, we will explore the possibilities of collaborations within the Digital Humanities, i.e. the systematic use of computational and algorithmic methods and resources in the humanities. 

The TEF will consist of several events as well as ongoing teaching and lecture formats over the course of the semester. 

Opening Day (October 26, 2022)

The Thematic Einstein Forum’s central topics will be introduced from the perspectives of both clusters. To initiate the exchange, participants from both clusters will reflect on their respective research projects’ relationship to matters of time, probability and contingency in an open forumFurther information can be found here.

Opening Workshop I (October 27, 2022)

The workshop on “Chaos and Contingency. The Role of Probability in Dynamical Models” wants to kick-off an investigation into open temporalities and possibilities and their role in literature, philosophy of science and mathematical modelling. It will address fundamental questions around the relations of contingency, chaos and probability. Further information can be found here.


Workshop II (January 2023)

The workshopFrom the Quantitative to the Qualitative and back: Tipping and Turning Points” will explore these points in literary (e.g., plot twists, revolutions, peripeties and catastrophes) and mathematical (e.g., multiple time scale dynamics and bifurcation theory) contexts. 

Spring School (March 2023) 

A one week spring school on Digital Humanities and Modeling Through Timewill bring together students and younger researchers from both fields to enhance a discussion on modes of temporality in the data-driven / digital humanities. In seminars and working groups, participants will be presented with case studies from literary history and in sociology of literature. At the same time, the school aims at providing introductory courses to statistical methods and basic programming. 

Final Conference: Scales of Temporality: Modeling Time and Predictability in the Literary and the Mathematical Sciences (March 2023)

The final conference will synthesize findings from the TEF and put a specific focus on promising areas for further collaborative research between mathematics and literary sciences on scales of temporality. 

The events will be complemented by the following semester-long activities:

Lecture series

In the lecture series Models of Time and Probability”, experts from mathematics (dynamical systems, analysis, probability theory, applications and modelling, biomathematics) and from literary studies (narratology, rhetoric, literary history and philosophy) will give lectures to an open audience. Further information can be found here.


Mathematics, Metaphysics, Methods: Geometry and Algebra in the discourse of Early Modern Philosophy 

This MA-course for students of philosophy will investigate the constitutive role of mathematics as a principle for early modern philosophy in writers such as Leibniz, Spinoza, Descartes or Du Châtelet. How has the comparison to mathematical procedures – both in algebra and in geometrics – shaped the modern understanding of philosophy as a rigorous science, and against what background has this introduction of “method” been possible?