CFP: Small Forms in Circulation: Infrastructures, Practices, Publics (Humboldt Universität Berlin, 28-30 Nov 2024)

Small textual and material forms seem particularly adept at circulating within and between different publics. This conference investigates how the movement of brief, compressed, and otherwise small forms ranging from early modern pamphlets to Instagram stories shape the development of diverse publics, as well as the interplay between them. We propose to explore the relationship between small forms and publics through three related strands of inquiry: how infrastructures affect the circulation of small forms, how practices including remediation enable their circulation, and how the circulation of small forms shapes the formation, operation, and dissolution of public life.

Due to their compactness and tendency to circulate rapidly, small forms accelerate the movement of information in ways that (trans)form both historical and contemporary publics. The development of the bourgeois public sphere as a space of discourse and debate went hand in hand with the historical proliferation of small forms, such as essays and letters, in the early periodical press (Habermas 1962). Building on recent studies on the socio-political role of small forms in the public sphere (Liese & Mohagheghi 2024), we assume a plurality of publics. This allows us to investigate how small forms such as pamphlets, counterculture magazines or hashtags constitute and mediate between different publics. While applying a transhistorical perspective, we are most interested in the 16th-21st centuries, with a focus on how print and media cultures mediate publics from the largest of scales to the small and subcultural.

Submission deadline: June 12, 2024.

Acceptance letters in August

Organised by

DFG-funded research group “Literary and epistemic history of small forms”, Humboldt University of Berlin (

Gesche Mirjam Beyer, Claas Oberstadt, Marvin Renfordt, Morten Schneider, Anya Shchetvina

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