Mary E. Rolling Reading Series to feature Penn State Edwin Erle Sparks Professor

Anushka Shah
January 14, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Emily Rolfe Grosholz, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy, African American Studies, and English, will offer a reading as part of the Mary E. Rolling Reading Series. The reading is free and open to the public and will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium.

Grosholz has published nine books of poetry. Notably, the lyrical collection "Childhood" (2014), composed of poems inspired by the four children she raised with her husband Robert Edwards, has been translated into five languages and supports UNICEF. Her most recent collections "The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems" (2017) and "Great Circles: The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry" (2018) showcase Grosholz’s larger interests in the intersections between philosophy, mathematics, science and language.

Emily Grosholz, Rolling Reading Series

Emily Grosholz, who has taught at Penn State since 1979, will read as part of the Mary E. Rolling Reading Series on Thursday, January 30.

IMAGE: Emily Grosholz

"Stars of Earth" begins with recent poems from a year’s worth of observations on the social and natural world, organized by months, and is followed by selections from past poetic work. Grosholz weaves her poems with strands of philosophy, mathematics and science in highly lyrical verse to compellingly “link geometry and physics to the apricot color of a robin’s breast,” as described by acclaimed American poet Mark Jarman, who further characterizes Grosholz as a “poet of radiant intelligence, patient lyricism, and meticulous craft.”

In the collection "Great Circles," Grosholz delves deeper into the interconnected nature of poetry and mathematics by exploring their parallels and links. The relationships between mathematical notions and poetic “figures of thought,” poetic form and mathematical structure, and the infinite and the finite are explored in diverse, sophisticated poems that move through different medias, literary and philosophical references, and fields of science and mathematics.

Grosholz has taught at Penn State since 1979 and is a member of the Center for Fundamental Theory/Institute for Gravitation and Cosmos. In 2017, she was awarded the Fernando Gil International Prize in Philosophy of Science. Grosholz has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, and is associated with SPHERE/REHSEIS at the University of Paris as a researcher. Additionally, Grosholz has served as an advisory editor for the Hudson Review since 1984. Her books illustrate her collaborations with the artists Farhad Ostovani, Lucy Vines Bonnefoy, Robert Fathauer, and Paul Resika; and a set of CDs and projects record her musical collaborations with Bruce Trinkley, Koko Tanikawa, Mirco De Stefani, and Hinako Omori, who turned her poems into songs.

The Mary E. Rolling Reading Series is a program offered by Penn State’s Creative Writing Program in English that receives generous support from the College of the Liberal Arts, the Department of English, the Joseph L. Grucci Poetry Endowment, the Mary E. Rolling Lectureship in Creative Writing, and University Libraries. The full list of 2019-20 series readings can be found online at

  • The Stars of Earth

    Stars of Earth begins with recent poems from a year’s worth of observations on the social and natural world, organized by months, and is followed by selections from past poetic work. 

    IMAGE: Emily Grosholz

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Last Updated January 15, 2020