The Center was created in September 1994 with the following two purposes:
- To offer a documentation service about the subjects defined by the scope of the Center, principally the study of "transverse epistemologies"
- To organize and promote, wherever required, the study of those subjects: it is not a matter of concentrating efforts on the exegesis of a sole author, but rather of exploring a shared intellectual field.
This double goal crystallised in the development of the following areas of activities:
Bibliographic service. Constitution of a library and archives containing published writings by or about Jorge Luis Borges. The copious amount of written material sent by their authors is being systematically catalogued in order to enlarge the existing bibliographic database. Part of the received manuscripts will be published in "Variaciones Borges." (See the list in the page devoted to services)
Research Structure. Academic and institutional support to scholars from different countries in the elaboration of thesis or publications. Encounter point for bibliographic exchanges.
Internet network. Documentation service and a future newsgroup through the Internet. Increasing awareness of subjects concerning the Center through the World Wide Web. This service is having a rapid expansion. Each day the staff of the Center is happy to answer questions and requests coming from all over the world
Meetings. Planning of lectures, seminars, meetings, and congresses on subjects concerning the Center. You can find information about these events here
Publications. Variaciones Borges: half-yearly publication containing a section devoted to thematic contributions, (mainly Borges and the transversal epistemologies) and another to bibliographic information and service exchanges. Variaciones Borges is published in Spanish, English and French and can be defined as a journal of philosophy, semiotics and literature.This item includes also publication of books.
Teaching. In Aarhus the teaching mission of the Center revolved around the Permanent Seminar, at the Center headquarters, in connection with the Spanish Department of the University of Aarhus. Invited professors included Michel Lafon, from the University of Grenoble, and there was frequent academic exchange. In Iowa regular courses are offered on Borges at the first-year undergraduate level (Reading Borges), advanced undergraduate level (senior seminar on Borges) and graduate seminars on Borges. Borges is also included in a wide variety of graduate and undergraduate courses.
Translation. Promotion of translation projects and discussion about the implications of the translation task.
While the Center was at Aarhus, the Permanent Seminar was the principal element of the research project. It adopted the classic form of a workshop. what implied a true research stricto sensu, in which once a problem was circumscribed, no particular result was presumed. This procedure excluded the lecturing in the presentation of subjects and required a large involvement of the participants. Those were generally researchers and advanced students coming from different disciplines.
Concerning the themes, each semester a predetermined main theme gradually developed wider variations. The research project began in 1994, having as subject "Borges and the Rhetoric of Forms." The matter was, on the one hand, to explore how some rhetorical forms go beyond the boundaries of one sentence to become authentic "textual forms," i.e. by structuring a whole text (there are, for instance, hypalagical texts, oxymoronic texts, etc.). On the other hand, to explore how some "morphologies," be it prototypical, mathematical, logical (the circle, the spiral, the infinite, the mirror, the quotation, the paradox) frequently attained a structural value within the rhetoric of the text.
From September 1995 on, the seminar considered the "Histories of Eternity, or the Forms of Fantastic Theology." As a way to clarifying the question on the internal forms of textuality, the analysis considers Borges' formal devices to deal with theological subjects. Instead of tracing the references to some systematic theology, the purpose is to follow the steps of a particular theology which expressly defines itself as fictional and narrative. Theology is for Borges "a branch of fantastic literature," maybe the one which supposes all the others. In a way, because every faith is an act of narrative imagination but also because theology deals with what it itself defines as essentially unattainable. Many declared or implicit characters in Borges' stories are the infinite, time, identity, personal responsibility, and in all of them arises, narratively, the theological hypothesis.
In 1997, the seminar concerned the "Indirect Knowledge". Taking as starting point the detective stories of "Six problems for Don Isidro Parodi," the procedures of irony and of conjecture were studied, as they characterized the "non-immediate" knowledge and presentation of reality.
The Borges Chair, reserved to invited full-professors, was inaugurated by Michel Lafon, who held the Permanent Seminar in October 1995. In 1996, the Borges Chair was assumed by Prof. Mercedes Blanco, from University of Lille III, about the short story "Los Teólogos".
ASSOCIATED PROJECTS: Some individual and collective research projects have already been proposed to be acknowledged as activities associated with the Center. You can find more information here.