Theories of Affect and the Short Fiction of Jorge Luis Borges

deadline for submissions: 
May 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Ashley Ecklund / University of Oregon
contact email: 

This panel will focus on the short fiction of Jorge Luis Borges and Affect Theory broadly construed. Papers analyzing any short story from Borges' many collections (e.g., Ficciones, The Book of Sand, Shakespeare's Memory etc.) along with any affect-focused reading are welcome. With analyses of the often enigmatic, and occasionally cryptic, atmospheres of Borges’ fiction, the aim of this panel is to add to (perhaps even shift!) discourses on the conceptualization of affect.

There are numerous descriptions of affect within literary criticism, including those focused on the human psyche, reader or author contexts, time-spaces and places, non-human vibrance, and the notion that affect involves yet exceeds us. Since this year's PAMLA theme is "Shifting Perspectives," a panel with more than one understanding of affect is fitting. Whether you study Sara Ahmed, Brian Massumi, Lauren Berlant, Sianne Ngai, Gillies Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Jenny Sharpe, Claire Colebrook, Eve Sedgwick, Rei Terada, or any of the growing number of theorists which address affect in their work, this panel is for you! Certainly, there is a shift in perspective awaiting us through another look at Borges' well known "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" or "The Library of Babel;" however, essays on lesser-known works are also welcome, as they may embolden a previously under-read text. To follow are questions to consider, but please note this list is not meant to set limits on the panel:

Some theorists read affect as involving, yet distinct from, emotion, while others discuss affect and emotion as analogous. What can Borges’ short fiction show us about this tension? Is affect “what happens to us when we feel an event,” rather than feeling itself, as Colebrook suggests in Understanding Deleuze (xix)? Considering another aspect, if affect is read as an active and unmeasurable form of effect, how might Borges’ work show histories as affective across time and place? Which textual details or stylistic elements might point to affect as spatial, atmospheric, or related to setting? If you read affect as a force beyond any one person, where does an analysis of affect begin in a story told through one mind or focused on an individual’s feelings, thoughts, and dialog? Is affect in concert with psychoanalysis in your reading; if so, in what ways, and to what extent? Does Borges' short fiction shift these questions to offer another perspective on affect theory, or how might one of his stories resist these lenses with its own theory? Further, for your essay’s story of focus, can the questions above underscore issues of cultural difference, racialization, or nationalism? Analytical leans, or stakes, towards poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, critical theories, posthumanities, feminisms, anticolonialisms, or something entirely different than what has been expressed here, are equally suitable as we take up the phenomenon of affect within Borges’ short fiction to develop a dynamic conversation for PAMLA's 120th Annual Conference.

Please submit your proposals by May 31st 2023 using the online submission form found at:

PAMLA, founded as the Philological Association of the Pacific Coast in 1899, and the western affiliate of the Modern Language Association, is dedicated to the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of ancient and modern languages, literatures, and cultures. This year’s PAMLA Conference will be held between October 26-29, 2023 at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Portland, Oregon (entirely in-person). We won’t be having any virtual or hybrid sessions or papers.


Please contact the presiding officer for this session, Ashley Ecklund, with any questions about the CFP above: