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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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John G. Zehnder published in the Journal of Undergraduate Research, Fall 2015.

John G. Zehnder published "Leopoldo Lugones and Jorge Luis Borges on Science: The Garden of Forking Opinions" in the Journal of Undergraduate Research at Minnesota State University, Mankato


His paper is available here:

Mentor's Name

Adriana Gordillo, Ph. D.

Students' Professional Biography

John Zehnder, a native Mankato, Minnesota, is currently a student at Minnesota State University, Mankato. With majors in geography and Spanish, he also studies linguistics and the teaching of English as a second language. He is very grateful for all of the wonderful research opportunities that MNSU, Mankato has provided. At the 2012 Undergraduate Research Symposium, he presented research about English language fluency among language learners and he was also involved in research presentations at the 2012 and 2013 Minnesota Colleges and Universities Writing Conference. From 2013 to 2014, he worked as a conversational assistant at the Al-Satt Institute of Secondary Education in Algete, Spain. In 2015 he presented research projects about Latin American Literature and child narratives at the Minnesota State University Undergraduate Research Symposium, as well as the Minnesota Undergraduate Scholars conference. This fall, he plans to begin a master’s degree in Hispanic linguistics. In the future, he hopes to pursue linguistic research in both English and Spanish.


This paper attempts to show how the fantastic authors Leopoldo Lugones and Jorge Luis Borges expressed different viewpoints about science and technology through their short stories. These Argentine authors are among Latin America’s most famous authors in the genre of the fantastic. However, these two literary luminaries diverged greatly with regard to their opinion about the role of science in society. While Lugones considered scientific progress to a grave threat to the moral fabric and well-being of society, Borges believed that scientific theories underpin and intersect with a variety of different experiences and thus can serve as tools to explore human perception of reality. Textual analyses of two short stories clearly illustrate these stark differences. The opinion of Lugones is evident in the short story, “Viola acherontia” while that of Borges is well-defined in “El libro de arena.” In the end, Borges’ treatment of science proves quite versatile and in contrast to Lugones’ fears, has helped lead the way to solutions to problems facing modern society.

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