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UCLA DH Seminar: Do Borges’ Librarians Have Bodies?

January 29, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
IDRE Portal – 5628 Math Sciences Building,

Lunch 12-1pm. Lecture 1-3pm

Please RSVP only if you will attend the lunch discussion from 12-1 in the IDRE Portal. No need to Register if you will attend the lecture at 1pm. Deadline to register for lunch is 5pm on Thursday, Jan. 25th.

Lecture abstract

In 1982, Bill Viola posed an enigmatic question: Will there be condominiums in Data Space? Borges’ Library of Babel perhaps provides an anachronistic answer to Viola’s still unresolved riddle, as the Argentine’s famous short story gives a detailed architectonic description of that prophetic infinite archive. And yet Borges’ story is equally with the lives, trials, and vindications of the librarians who inhabit “the Universe, which others call the Library.” Borges, as is well known, has been invented many times over as the precursor to cyberspace. Little has been made, however, of the librarians who inhabit Borges’ proto-data space. They very rarely appear, for instance, in the many and varied attempts to visualize the Library of Babel in digital media. From multimedia installations at Latin American book festivals to Jonathan Basile’s <libraryofbabel.info>, it would seem that Borges’ librarians themselves are absolutely incorporeal. I read Viola’s essay with and against a history of attempts to represent Borges’ story as a digital project. By tracing the material and digital texualities of a particularly viral topic of visualization, the essay will follow Borges and Viola as guides, navigating the impulse to transmute the entire human experience into information.

Zac Zimmer 

assistant professor of Literature at UC Santa Cruz and faculty affiliate with Latin American and Latino Studies – received his PhD from the Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University. His research explores questions of literature, aesthetics, politics, and technology in Latin America. His current project is a comparative study of Latin American science fiction and narratives of the sixteenth century conquest of the Americas; previous publications have appeared in Latin American Research Review, Chasqui, Modern Language Notes, Technology & Culture, and the Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana.

This lecture is part of the “Junior Faculty Lecture Circuit”, a program made possible by a 2017-18 Humanities Center Collaboration grant from the UC Humanities Research Institute.



January 29, 2018
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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IDRE Portal – 5628 Math Sciences Building


Center for Digital Humanities
(310) 206-1414
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