Mapping Brevity across Borders: Short Forms as Tools for Educational, Social and Cultural Mediation

deadline for submissions: 
June 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
University of Santiago de Compostela

The ERASMUS+ “Strategic Partnerships” project Short Forms Beyond Borders (2020-2023) is presently organising a “Multiplier Event” to be hosted by the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), 4 to 5 July 2022. This event aims at offering interdisciplinary reflections on the use of short forms –which also include promoting innovative pedagogical uses of short forms for educational purposes– while also being conceived of as an international forum to disseminate the project’s ongoing research and its present results on this topic.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of our contemporary, globalised society is undoubtedly the immediacy in communication processes and information exchanges via numerous digital tools. In this context, short forms are progressively becoming the preferred vehicle of communication as they facilitate the rapid exchange of information that the new situation demands. Brevity has become a characteristic shared by a ceaselessly growing number of forms of private and public communication. Twitter, WhatsApp and text messages, tutorials and short videos, Instagram stories, shortcoms, movie trailers, short speeches, sales pitches, digital storytelling, news briefs or slogans are just some examples of the extent to which brevity is increasingly central to our everyday communicative experience worldwide. The interaction between social networks and digital storytelling allows for the emergence of new narrative and discursive formulas which, often aided by multiformat resources, produce brief forms of communication which are no longer unidirectional, but interactive in their nature, encouraging consumers to become active producers of the very short forms they are consuming – more and more people are becoming prosumers. Unsurprisingly, literary short forms are becoming increasingly popular. Likewise, the imperatives of urgency and immediacy of today’s world are also met by the short story because of its capacity to rapidly engage with and respond to topical issues of our contemporary society, either in conventional publication formats or via new digital outlets and platforms which, through the bi-directional possibilities they afford, enable readers’ immediate responses, comments and feedback.

Despite obvious differences in the articulation and circulation of contemporary short forms, brevity and condensation are two of their defining features, which determine their production and consumption both in terms of form and content. Because of their inherent brevity and their experimental thrust, short forms emerge as borderline ways of expression in their resistance to comply with identifiable and traditional categories, making them hospitable to critical reflection and social contestation. In fact, this indeterminacy along with the interstitial nature of short forms and their capacity to render physical, cultural and ideological crossroads make of them useful tools of mediation which are particularly appealing in an age of global mobility, digital networking and interethnic transnationality. In this sense, short forms may become a means to develop and affirm social connections and cohesion, and to encourage the expression of both individual and transnational cultural identities. In addition, given the potential of short forms for cultural, educational, and social mediation, as well as their ability to cater to a wide range of audiences, short forms may also encourage the emergence of new teaching approaches as well as innovative pedagogical tools and programmes.

Departing from such premises, this conference aims at fostering a critical space of reflection and discussion on the relevance of short forms and their potential to encapsulate contemporary experience, as well as to consider the possibilities which short forms may entail as a tool of cultural mediation in both social and pedagogical contexts. We thus invite scholars, creatives, and educators to propose individual papers, theme panels or workshops that theorise short forms, address their potential as teaching tools, or examine their role in shaping new literary and cultural borderscapes. We invite submissions including, but not limited to, topics that address any of the following:

• Theoretical approaches to the notion of ‘short form’ (length, genres, formats, contexts of dissemination)
• The history of short forms: changes in production, distribution, and circulation (from print to digital formats)
• Intersections, interactions and intermedial connections amongst different short forms (written texts, audio-visual material, social media content, short forms and storytelling)
• The use of short forms in teaching and learning environments
• The performative and pedagogical component of short forms
• The relationship between form and content, including discussions on short forms, marginal genres, border experiences and transnationality
• Brevity in fiction and non-fiction and how this conditions storytelling, its values and our perceptions of it
• Brevity across media and across disciplines
• Intergenerational perceptions of brevity

Please send 250-word proposals in English for papers, theme panels and workshops and a 100-word bionote to before 31 May 2022.

Although this conference is planned to have an onsite format, our delegates’ safety is a priority, and we will strictly adhere to all coronavirus regulations in place. Additional details about the conference may be found online at: