CFP: Velvet Light Trap on Media Distribution

Call for Papers
The Velvet Light Trap
Issue #75: Media Distribution

Deadline: January 15, 2014

Although distribution has long been known as the economic linchpin of the media industries, it remains the least studied aspect of that industry, conjuring images of dour economists combing through dusty ledgers. But scholarly attention is shifting.

As recent technologies upend older distribution models, they both facilitate alternative media cultures and drive traditional stakeholders into new conflicts. Media distribution, once the invisible link between production and exhibition/reception, increasingly reveals the major struggles over cultural and economic power that have long invigorated the field. Scholars studying contemporary media have energetically responded to the implications of the rapidly transforming landscape of media distribution, where new agents reroute industrial circuits and burgeoning networks of often “illicit” circulation form. As a result, the study of distribution now encompasses a range of methods and approaches including not only economic analysis but also cultural criticism, ethnography, and geo-mapping.

The last decade’s upheavals have sensitized media historians to the long-standing effects of and struggles over distribution. Scholars have re-explored historical subjects with newfound contemporary relevance, such as the emergence of copyright, film libraries, labor’s attempts to intervene in licensing content, and Hollywood’s analysis of its audiences. Moreover, new research tools have provided access to new sources and methods that encourage us to scrutinize received wisdom about the emergence of the commercial film industry, classical Hollywood’s mass audience and easy domination of world markets, and the formation of broadcast networks, as well as the historical existence of alternative distribution networks.

Issue #75 of VLT, “Media Distribution,” seeks to further address the complex effects of and determinations shaping forms of media distribution. The editors are particularly interested to bring together historical and contemporary case studies, as well as theoretical work, investigating the implications of struggles to control the conditions under which media circulates.  To that end, we invite submissions that explore the economic, political, social, and aesthetic effects of media distribution.

Suggested topics include, but are by no means limited to:

  •         The emergence, maintenance, and transformation of commercial distribution
  •         Audience identification, segmentation, and marketing
  •         Screen quotas, cultural difference, and international censors
  •         Reformatting for new technologies and translating for foreign markets
  •         Historical studies of noncommercial or alternative distribution networks
  •         Infrastructures of distribution
  •         Scales of distribution: global, regional, national, local
  •         Subcultural networks, dispersed communities, and diasporic identities
  •         Distribution workers
  •         VOD, streaming video, web television
  •         Geo-blocking and transnational online distribution
  •         Peer-to-peer sharing, black markets, and pirated content
  •         Self-distribution, viral video, and social networking

Submissions should be between 8,000 and 10,000 words, formatted in Chicago style. Submission guidelines at the journal website. Send electronic manuscripts and/or any questions to velvetlighttrap.austin - AT -


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