Interdisciplinary Conference

Announcement December 2019

Format Matters: Standards, Practices, and Politics in Media Cultures

The conference volume edited by Marek Jancovic, Axel Volmar, and Alexandra Schneider

Now available from Meson Press
(print and digital open access)

7-9 December 2017

Department of Film Studies/Media Dramaturgy, Institute of Film, Theater and empirical Cultural Studies

Venues: Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (Atrium Maximum), Haus am Dom Mainz

Organized by Alexandra Schneider, Marek Jancovic & Nicole Braida

The conference Format Matters at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz brings together international scholars from a variety of disciplines to explore the cultural meaning, social dynamics and aesthetic effects of media formats.

“Format” can refer to a great range of very dissimilar objects, practices and cultural registers: From the size or folding of a book to the shape, color and “weight” of a film; from the durational rhythms of a television program and syntactic orderings of a computer file to formalized ways of recordkeeping, cataloging and description. Formats are historically specific modes of organizing sensory experience that inscribe the economic, technological and cultural conditions of a particular age into concrete objects. Format is the categorizing instrument that allows us to meaningfully understand the hierarchy of cultural and material gradations by which “tabloid” is related to “broadsheet”, or 8mm film is differentiated from a Laserdisc.

Despite the central role it plays for film, television, media and literary studies, questions of format have thus far remained subordinate to form, content or genre. Only recently, with the appearance of a number of case studies across various media, the study of formats began experiencing increased urgency, with media historian Jonathan Sterne even suggesting the necessity of a field of ‘format theory’. Building on this important previous work, Format Matters aims to further the methodological and theoretical concerns and contribute towards a deeper understanding of the function of formats in media culture.

Download the conference poster and program



Thursday December 7, 2017

16.00 Arrival

16.30-17.15 Opening and Welcome
17.30-19.00 Instances

(Chair: Alexandra Schneider)

19.00-21.00 Reception


Friday December 8, 2017

10.00-11.30 Boundaries

(Chair: Rembert Hüser)

11.45-13.15 Practices

(Chair: Marek Jancovic)

13.15-14.45 Lunch break
14.45-16.15 Resolutions

(Chair: Malte Hagener)

16.30-18.00 Logistics

(Chair: Florian Krautkrämer)

19.00 Dinner


Saturday December 9, 2017

10.00-11.30 Materialities

(Chair: Kristina Köhler)

11.45-13.15 Approaches

(Chair: Yvonne Zimmermann)