Media Aesthetics and Small Form: Calendar Tale, Fait Divers, and the Digital Age

Fabian Goppelsröder


How does a tweet become twitterature? What makes small forms literary? In times of Twitter and Facebook, text messages and email the question of the poetic potential of short prose texts arises in new, emphatic ways. But does shortness suffice to explain their particular aesthetics? And how short is ‘short’? Instead of focusing on the number of characters alone, this essay understands small forms as short texts whose poetics unfolds from the texts’ subversive play with their medial embedding. Two fundamentally different analog authors, Johann Peter Hebel (1760–1824) and Félix Fénéon (1861–1944), serve as a historical background against which a new view on the literary possibilities of small forms in the age of digitization opens up. In the conscious, playful handling of media routines and habits, I argue, they are able to attain an aesthetic power that goes beyond a witty punch line. (FG)

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