Journal Information

  • ISSN: 0149-1830


SEMIANNUAL · 8 1/2 x 11 · 112 PAGES/ISSUE · ISSN 0149-1830 · E-ISSN 1542-4251

Shanti Kumar and Derek Johnson, Academic Advisors

The Velvet Light Trap is a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal of film, television, and new media. The journal draws on a variety of theoretical and historiographical approaches from the humanities and social sciences and welcomes any effort that will help foster the ongoing processes of evaluation and negotiation in media history and criticism. While VLT 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 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.

Recent Issues

Volume 93, Spring 2024


Mass Ornament, Exploded: Tik Tok Dance Challenges as Mass Culture
by Renée Pastel

The Obama Coalition as a Model for Mass Audience: Higher Ground Productions, Consensus Taste, and Streaming Media’s Centrism
by Evan Elkins

The “Problem” of Black Skin: The Naturalization of Technological Racial Bias through the Discourse of Adobe Lightroom Presets and Wedding Photography
by Collin Hawley

The Expensive Oriental Flesh: The Racial Form of a New Deal Musical
by Xin Peng

From Radio to Podcasting: Intimacy and Massification
by Jason Loviglio

You Have to Watch It! You Love Columbo: Prestige Television and Poker Face
by Amanda Keeler

Styles of Movie Stardom after Movie Stardom
by Landon Palmer

Reflections on the New Streaming Oligopoly: Original Productions and Delivery Strategies for Films and Television Series
by Roderik Smits

Reconsidering the “Mass” Audiences of India’s Digital Platforms
by Anubha Sarkar

Book Reviews

Decline and Reimagination in Cinematic New York, by Cortland Rankin
reviewed by Sophia Abbey

Buy Now: How Amazon Branded Convenience and Normalized Monopoly, by Emily West
reviewed by Katie Hoovestol

Uncomfortable Television, by Hunter Hargraves
reviewed by Alex Remington

Volume 92, Fall 2023


About Time, the Urban Village, and Digital Disruptions of the London Romantic Comedy
by Harriet Idle

Meeting the Parents: Romance’s Comedic Ruptures in the Familial Rom-Com
by Kate J. Russell

Fourth Cinema Genre Mash-Up: Coming-of-Age Drama and Sketch Comedy in Reservation Dogs
by Cynthia Baron

Remembering the Future, Unraveling the Mystery: Science Fiction as Collective Memory in Postdictatorship Argentina
by Jennifer Alpert

Hanging On, Drifting Off, Treading Water: Christian Petzold’s Undine; or, Toward an Awkward Romanticism
by Luise Morke

Book Reviews

The Cinema of Discomfort: Disquieting, Awkward, and Uncomfortable Experiences in Contemporary Art and Indie Film,                by Geoff King
reviewed by Lance St. Laurent

Movies on Our Minds: The Evolution of Cinematic Engagement, by James E. Cutting
reviewed by Mattie Jacobs

Specworld: Folds, Faults and Fractures in Embedded Creator Industries, by John Thornton Caldwell
reviewed by Anthony Twarog

Chilean Cinema in the Twenty-First Century World, edited by Vania Barraza and Carl Fischer
reviewed by Shannon Weidner

Volume 91, Spring 2023


Revolutions in Resolution: Cultural Passing through “Cinematic” Video
by Michael Larocco

Rewatching with the Gilmore Guys: Rewatch Podcasts and Residual Consumption
by Nicholas Benson

“An Extraordinary Piece of Engineering”: The Artificial Woman as Digital Effect
by Mihaela Mihailova

Plastic Orientalism: Surface Logic and Cultural Technique in K-Pop
by Rita Rongyi Lin

The New Pirate TV: Examining the Remediation and Online Narrowcasting of Justin.tv in a New Media Environment
by Connor D. Wilcox, S.M. Nancy Walus, and Jonathan Mattson

While We Wait for the Holodeck; or , How Agency in VR Tells Half a Story
by Dooley Murphy

TikTok, Creation, and the Algorithm
by Jake Pitre

Book Reviews

The Generic Closet: Black Gayness an the Black-Cast Sitcom, by Alfred L. Martin Jr.
reviewed by Nina Linhales Barker

Twenty-First Century Hollywood: Rebooting the System, by Neil Archer
reviewed by Peter Arne Johnson

Social Media Entertainment: The New Intersection of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, by Stuart Cunningham and David Craig
reviewed by Kaitlin Lange


Volume 90, Fall 2022


A Tale of Two Indies: Amazon Studios and A24 in the Streaming Age
by Ryan David Briggs

Residual Fandom: Television Technologies, Industries, and Fans of Survivor
by Cameron Lynn Brown

Fast Forwarding the Past (on Pause): Daniel Lopatin’s Memory Vague and the Hauntological Aesthetic of Vaporwave
by Jordon J. Jacobson

Streaming’s Skip Intro Function as a Contradictory Refuge for Television Title Sequences
by Max Dosser

Keeping Up with the Kings
by Lynn Kozak

Distribution in the Streaming Era: A Scholarly Roundtable
moderated by the editors

Book Reviews

ReFocus: The Films of Albert Brooks, edited by Christian B. Long
reviewed by Samantha Janes

Film Phenomenology and Adaptation: Sensuous Elaboration, by David Evan Richard
reviewed by Erica Moulton

Dreams of Flight: “The Great Escape” in American Film and Culture, by Dana Polan
reviewed by Josh Martin

Re-Animator, by Eddie Falvey
reviewed by Lance St. Laurent

Whitewashing the Movies: Asian Erasure and White Subjectivity in US Film Culture, by David C. Oh
reviewed by Joseph Shin


Volume 89, Spring 2022


“There Would Be No Kerry Washington without Diahann Carroll”: Shout-Out Culture, Sisterhood, and the Discourse of Black Womanhood
by Ashley S. Young

Awarding Chinese-Language Cinemas: Imaginary Transnational Identities of the Golden Horse Awards
by Carol Chih-Ju Lin

Golden Gays: Awards Legitimation from the Globes to GLAAD
by Ben Kruger-Robbins

Industrializing Nationalist Dissent: Music Censorship, 2 Live Crew, and the Politics of Performance at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards
by Michael M. Reinhard

Hollywood’s Culture of Scientific and Technical Achievement
by Charles R. Acland

Professional Widows: Contesting History with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
by Alyxandra Vesey

Book Reviews

Documentary Film Festivals Vol: 1: Methods, History, Politics, edited by Aida Vallejo and Ezra Winton
reviewed by Jing Wang

Fashion on the Red Carpet: A History of the Oscars©, Fashion, and Globalisation, by Elizabeth Castaldo Lundrén
reviewed by Alex Remington

Cinema and the Cultural Cold War: US Diplomacy and the Origins of the Asian Cinema Network, by Sangjoon Lee
reviewed by Hyun Jung Stephany Noh

Shooting “Midnight Cowboy”: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic, by Glenn Frankel
reviewed by Alexander Geffard

International Film Festivals: Contemporary Cultures and History beyond Venice and Cannes, edited by Tricia Jenkins
reviewed by Nina Linhales Barker


Volume 88, Fall 2021


Toward a Theory of Disability Documentary: Alison O’Daniel’s The Tuba Thieves (2013–Present)
by Emma Ben Ayoun

Netflix Originals: The Evolution of True Crime Television
by Elizabeth Walters

Color Correction and the Look of Festival Documentary
by Chris Cagle

Indian Food Television: Tracing the Transformation of Hindi and English Food Shows (2010–2018)
by Dattatreya Ghosh

(Re)Writing Music History: Television, Memory, and Nostalgia in The People’s History of Pop
by Leanne Weston

ACT UP Documentaries and the Question of Intermediate Archivial Context
by Matt Connolly

Structural Film, Mondo New Hollywood, and the Violent Image: A Discussion with Sheldon Renan
by Syd Rosen

Book Reviews

NSFW: Sex, Humor, and Risk in Social Media, by Susanna Paasonen, Kylie Jarrett, and Ben Light
reviewed by Austin Morris

Hollywood Hates Hitler! Jew-Baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures, by Chris Yogerst
reviewed by Dillon Mitchell

Dialectics without Synthesis: Japanese Film theory and Realism in a Global Frame, by Naoki Yamamoto
reviewed by Lyuwenyu Zhang

Documentary Resistance: Social Change and Participatory Media, by Angela J. Aguayo
reviewed by Matt St. John

New Approaches to Contemporary Adaptation, edited by Betty Kaklamanidou
reviewed by Erica Moulton


Volume 87, Spring 2021


Experiments in the Cine-Olympic Cycle: Camera Technology and Operation in The Grand Olympics (1961) and White Rock (1977)
by Adam Herbert

Beyond Basketball: NBA Entertainment and the Sports League as Global Media Empire, 1982–1990
by Steven Secular

Running the Wrong Pattern: TVTV Goes to the Super Bowl
by Brett Kashmere

From the Tribune to the Tube: The Development of Sports Punditry on Cable Television
by Taylor M. Henry

Dossier: Field Goals—New Directions and Intersections

Maya Moore, Black Lives Matter, and the Visibility of Athlete Activism
by Jennifer McClearen and Mia Fischer

Glorious Bones: Esmaa Mohamoud’s Football Fabulation
by Samantha N. Sheppard

How to Know When You Should Quit Your Research Project, or Why Fan Studies and Sports Studies Need Each Other
by Samantha Close

The 2020 National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup Anthem Protests:  The Limits of Symbolic White Allyship
by Charlotte E. Howell

RedBottoms, Gold, and Ass: The Werk of Serena Williams on the Cover of Harper’s Bazaar
by Katrina Marie Overby

Book Reviews

National Pastimes: Cinema, Sports and Nation, by Katharina Bonzel
reviewed by Alexander Brannan

The Power of Sports: Media and Spectacle in American Culture,  by Michael Serazio
reviewed by Hazem Fahmy

Mascot Nation: The Controversy over Native American Representations in Sports, by Andrew Billings and Jason Edward Black
reviewed by Brett Siegel


Call for Papers | Submissions

Call for Papers | Media Values
The Velvet Light Trap, Issue 95 (to be published Spring 2025)

Media industries utilize a number of different strategies to assign value to their commodities. Box office receipts have long been a benchmark of success for theatrical film releases, despite proliferating ancillary revenue streams. Audience ratings determined advertising dollars as the dominant form of evaluation in linear commercial television.  High engagement metrics on social media often translates to increased bargaining power of influencers, actors, and writers alike. Yet, these processes of valuation are in a constant state of flux dependent upon variables such as technological innovation, economic conditions, and cultural climates.


The economic and cultural value of media is, therefore, far more complex than formulas of dollar signs and industry metrics. Where and how institutions, organizations, and intermediaries assign value reflects ideological biases often along the faultlines of race, gender, and class. Practices like rewatching, fansubbing, fan fiction writing, and collecting all express personal value as well as create economic value for media firms. The politics of certain media objects and forms demonstrate the contested terrain of social and ethical values amidst anxieties of industrial transition and technological innovation.


Media industries themselves are objects of evaluation—which has become clear with recent shifts in the criteria upon which financial organizations value media firms and platforms. Industry-wide speculation regarding the return on investment for streaming has proven to be unsuccessful for studio and network executives and harmful for creatives. Tech and internet companies constantly modulate the terms and interfaces of social media platforms that provide users with valuable promotion and networking. Concepts like brand recognition and brand identity have symbolic weight in decisions of corporate restructuring, yet do not always translate to profit if undercut by poor distribution or content management strategies. Of course, these trends are merely the latest manifestations of the ongoing and unstable processes by which value changes over time. Institutions and intermediaries like art house cinemas, film and television festivals, archives, professional organizations, and the academy all—to varying degrees—influence how valuable a media commodity or company is at different moments in its (potentially endless) lifetime.


This issue of The Velvet Light Trap will explore the varied relations between media and value. We welcome pieces about all media forms and industries, as well as submissions that look beyond these toward audiences, stars, technologies, etc. We seek a range of methodological and theoretical approaches encompassing—but not limited to—historiographic, textual, political economic, and critical-cultural treatments of evolving valuation practices in contemporary and historical contexts across production, distribution, exhibition, reception, and regulatory processes. We look forward to submissions which address any of the following topics including but not limited to:

  • Studies of formal and informal circulation patterns and their impacts on value creation and/or destruction
  • Ownership in the media industries and ownership of media commodities
  • The evolving marketplace for content libraries
  • The continuing value of rights licensing in live broadcasting and streaming media
  • Archiving and preservation practices and priorities
  • The collection of physical media formats and material value in the digital era
  • The relationship between financialization and the media industries
  • Emerging cultural intermediaries like content aggregators
  • The use of (or troubling the use of) identity politics in the valuation of texts
  • The role of social media and viral marketing in the creation of anticipation or controversy
  • Explorations of geocultural capital and the mechanisms by which different nations, regions, and cities accumulate and exchange it
  • The role of creative labor in the production of value
  • The representation of national, religious, and/or political values in media texts and industries
  • The role of ancillary industries and markets in the construction of value
  • Academic patterns of value in relationship to certain media forms and industries


Open Call

In addition to accepting submissions that relate to the above theme, The Velvet Light Trap will accept general submissions broadly related to the journal’s focus on critical, theoretical, and historical approaches to film and media studies. We hope that scholars inspired by the work published in our themed issues, past and present, will especially consider submitting their work.


Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be between 6,000 and 7,500 words, formatted in Chicago Style (notes-bibliography). Please submit an electronic copy of the paper, along with a separate one-page abstract, both saved as Microsoft Word files. 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 vltcfp@gmail.com by January 28th, 2024. 

Peer-Review Process and Publication Ethics

The Velvet Light Trap
ISSN 0149-1830 · E-ISSN 1542-4251
Published semiannually
Academic Advisors to the Graduate Students: Shanti Kumar, University of Texas, and Derek Johnson, University of Wisconsin
Editorial Board: Available on the Editorial Board tab on the webpage listed above
Journal ownership: University of Texas Press
Online access: Project Muse, UT Press

Peer-Review Process

Articles submitted to The Velvet Light Trap are initially reviewed by the editors, who determine whether the manuscript will be sent to outside reviewers. If chosen for review, the manuscript is then evaluated in a double-blind process by at least two and usually three outside reviewers, including members of the journal’s Editorial Board, and/or other experts in relevant fields as selected by the editors. This peer-review process is designed to ensure that VLT publishes only original, accurate, and timely articles that contribute new knowledge, insights or valuable perspectives to our discipline.


Reviewers play a vital role in ensuring the quality of papers published in the journal.

Questions addressed by reviewers include:

  • Is the topic within the scope of the journal?
  • Is the topic significant or sufficiently interesting to warrant publication?
  • Is the scholarship adequately documented and is relevant literature reviewed?
  • Are the research aims and any methodological choices made by author clear and justified?
  • Is the article well organized and clearly written?

Reviewers make one of three recommendations: acceptance, acceptance with revision, rejection. Reviewers are asked to include comments explaining the recommendation to provide authors with suitable feedback to improve the article. Our aim is to create a constructive process that benefits the journal and the authors while respecting the time and efforts of all volunteer reviewers.

Review Timetable

We understand that the timeliness of decisions and publication is a major concern of authors. The typical manuscript is reviewed by one of the editors and sent out to reviewers within a couple of weeks after submission. Reviewers typically have six weeks to prepare their review (a second round of reviews may be solicited if the initial reviewers disagree). Then a couple of weeks are typically required to reconcile reviewer comments (and identify any significant copyediting issues for papers that were accepted or accepted with slight revisions). Thus, it is quite possible that an author could hear back in less than two months from the time of submission. However, the realities of the peer-review process sometimes extend our timeline. You will receive a response as expeditiously as possible. If you are seeking publication for a tenure packet, please allow for ample review time and let us know this is a consideration. Authors receive the reviewers’ comments and are often asked to revise the manuscript in line with the reviewers’ and/or editor’s suggestions. If the revised article is accepted for publication, the editor then determines the journal issue in which it will appear. Authors can help speed the process by ensuring they follow the submission requirements and, if accepted, addressing the reviewers comments and any copy-editing requirements in a timely fashion.


Statement of Publication Ethics

The editor(s) and editorial board of The Velvet Light Trap are committed to the following:

  • We will make our best efforts to ensure that our peer-review processes and editorial decisions are fair and unbiased, and that manuscripts are judged solely on their merits by individuals with appropriate levels of expertise in the subject area.
    • We have the right to reject a manuscript at any point in the process if, after an unbiased evaluation, it is the opinion of the editor(s) it does not align with the journal’s mission or editorial policies or would be in conflict with the journal’s legal requirements.
  • We will treat submitted manuscripts as confidential documents and will not discuss them or share information about them with anyone outside the editorial staff, editorial board, potential reviewers, or the publisher.
  • We expect transparency on the part of editors and reviewers regarding potential conflicts of interest and will assign manuscripts to individuals who are not expected to have such conflicts.
  • We expect authors to help us uphold our ethical standards by
    • submitting only original works;
    • respecting the intellectual property rights of others;
    • adhering to the journal’s policies regarding simultaneous submissions;
    • acknowledging sources;
    • appropriately crediting all authors, other research participants, and funding sources;
    • disclosing any potential conflicts of interest; and
    • notifying the editors and/or publisher of any significant errors discovered after submission or publication.
  • We will promptly investigate any credible allegation of unethical or illegal practices related to an article we have published. When warranted, we will issue corrections, retractions, and/or apologies, working with the author(s) as appropriate to find the best resolution.
  • Concerns may be reported directly to the editor(s) or publisher by email at velvetlighttrap.austin@gmail.com (UT Austin editorial office), thevelvetlighttrap@gmail.com (UW–Madison editorial office), journals@utpress.utexas.edu (UT Press)




Editorial Board

Academic Advisors

Shanti Kumar
University of Texas at Austin
300 W. Dean Keeton (A0900)
Austin, TX 78712-1069

Derek Johnson
University of Wisconsin
6116 Vilas Hall
821 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706

Editorial Board

Manuel Avilés-Santiago, Arizona State University

Lauren S. Berliner, University of Washington

Andre Brock, Georgia Institute of Technology

Dolores Inés Casillas, University of California, Santa Barbara

Aymar Jean Christian, Northwestern University

Norma Coates, University of Western Ontario

Brian Fauteux, University of Alberta

Allyson Nadia Field, University of Chicago

Racquel Gates, City University of New York

Aniko Imre, University of Southern California

Deborah Jaramillo, Boston University

Derek Kompare, Southern Methodist University

Lori Morimoto, University of Virginia

Ruben Ramírez-Sànchez, University of Puerto Rico

Debra Ramsey, University of Exeter

Bob Rehak, Swarthmore College

Samantha Noelle Sheppard, Cornell University

Alyx Vesey, University of Alabama

Local Graduate Student Faculty Advisors:

Mary Beltrán, University of Texas at Austin

Ben Brewster, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Jonathan Gray, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Michele Hilmes (emeritus), University of Wisconsin at Madison

Lea Jacob, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Derek Johnson, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Shanti Kumar, University of Texas at Austin

Charles Ramírez Berg, University of Texas at Austin

Thomas Schatz (emeritus), University of Texas at Austin

Janet Staiger (emeritus), University of Texas at Austin


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.


Published Semiannually

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Half Page Horizontal: $250.00
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Mechanical Requirements
Full Page: 7 x 9.5 in.
Half Page: 7.5 x 4.5 in.
Trim Size: 8.5 x 11 in.
Halftones: 300 dpi

Reservations Artwork
Spring December 15 January 1
Fall June 15 July 1

Acceptance Policy
All advertisements are limited to material of scholarly interest to our readers. If any advertisement is inappropriate, we reserve the right to decline it.


  • All copy is subject to editorial approval.
  • Publisher’s liability for error will not exceed cost of space reserved.
  • If requested, all artwork will be returned to advertiser.
  • Invoices and tear sheets will be issued shortly after journal publication.
  • We prefer to have ads as Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

These files can be e-mailed directly to cfarmer@utpress.utexas.edu.