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VLT is collectively edited by graduate students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and The University of Texas at Austin, with the support of media scholars at those institutions and throughout the country. Each issue provokes debate about critical, theoretical, and historical topics relating to a particular theme.
The Velvet Light Trap is a journal devoted to investigating historical questions that illuminate the understanding of film, television, and other media. It publishes articles and interviews written with the highest scholarly standards yet accessible to a broad range of readers. The journal draws on a variety of theoretical and historiographic approaches from the humanities and social sciences. The journal welcomes any effort that will help foster the ongoing processes of evaluation and negotiation in media history and criticism. While The Velvet Light Trap maintains its traditional commitment to the study of American film, it also expands its scope to television and other media, to adjacent institutions, and to other nations' media. The journal encourages both approaches and objects of study that have been neglected or excluded in past scholarship.
The Velvet Light Trap issues calls for papers based on specific themes. Submission requirements may vary from one call to another, and submissions must be sent to the university issuing the call. The format should follow the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. The entire essay, including block quotations and notes, should be double spaced. Quotations not in English should be accompanied by translations. Photocopies of illustrations are sufficient for initial review, but authors should be prepared to supply camera-ready photographs on request. Illustrations will be sized by the publisher. Permissions are the responsibility of the author.
The concept of a “bad object” has long been a moving target in media studies. Although the term is rarely defined with any specificity, a “bad object” is typically a text that is used in critical analysis with the implicit or explicit acknowledgement of its perceived violations of “good” taste. Excess, camp, escapism, the abject, and negotiations of the margins of mainstream culture often mark these objects. The concept is important in feminist and psychoanalytic theories, as well as in genre studies, in which it is mobilized to justify the examination of B-horror, exploitation film, or pornography, for example. The term has helped challenge hierarchies of medium specificity. For example, Michele Hilmes has written that television was treated as a “bad object” of media studies, a sentiment echoed by many other scholars. These uses of the term reflect the fact that age, class, gender, and race have often been motivating factors in the construction of evaluative canons.
Yet the applications of this term have rapidly diversified in the past decade. With the increase in scholarship on new media, social media, video games, and global flows, together with greater attention to diverse identities behind/on/in front of the screen, the conversation on taste cultures has shifted significantly. This issue seeks to expand or question the boundaries and applications of the “bad object” as an analytical framework. We welcome pieces that challenge the foundations of this divide. How can we re-calibrate these and other approaches to address purported bad objects within our contemporary media landscape? Can we approach bad objects beyond the text itself in issues of production cultures, distribution, and consumption?
This issue welcomes submissions that push beyond the binaries of "good" and "bad," "serious" and "ephemeral," and “high” and “low” culture, exploring some of the following themes:
Submissions should be between 6,000 and 7,500 words, formatted in Chicago Style. Please submit an electronic copy of the paper, along with a separate one-page abstract, both saved as a Microsoft Word file. Remove any identifying information so that the submission is suitable for anonymous review. Quotations not in English should be accompanied by translations. Send electronic manuscripts and/or any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 25.
About the Journal
The Velvet Light Trap is a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal of film, television, and new media studies. Graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas-Austin coordinate issues in alternation. Our Editorial Advisory Board includes such notable scholars as Hector Amaya, Ben Aslinger, Miranda Banks, Caetlin Benson-Allott, Mark Betz, Michael Curtin, Kay Dickinson, Lisa Dombrowski, Daniel Herbert, Lucas Hilderbrand, Debra Jaramillo, Roberta Pearson, Debra Ramsay, Avi Santo, Jacob Smith, Jonathan Sterne. VLT's graduate student editors are assisted by their local faculty advisors: Mary Beltrán, Ben Brewster, Jonathan Gray, Lea Jacobs, Derek Johnson, Jeremy Morris, Shanti Kumar, Charles Ramírez Berg, Thomas Schatz, and Janet Staiger.
Wisconsin Editorial Office
Dept. of Communication Arts
Vilas Hall – Sixth Floor
The University of Wisconsin – Madison
Madison, WI 53706
Austin Editorial Office
Dept. of Radio-Television-Film
2504 Whitis Ave., STOP A0800
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1067
The Velvet Light Trap is indexed in Academic Search Premier, America: History and Life, Communication Abstracts, Contemporary Culture Index, Film Literature Index, Historical Abstracts, Humanities International Complete, IBR (International Bibliography of Book Reviews), IBZ (International Bibliography of Periodical Literature), International Index to Film Periodicals, and Sociological Abstracts.
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