CFP-Stocks, Screens, and Servers: The Materiality of Media (The Velvet Light Trap #70)

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The Velvet Light Trap

As culture becomes increasingly digitized— from downloading and streaming videos and music to digital film production and cloud computing— arguments for the "dematerialization" of media are becoming commonplace. However, media have always been, and remain, embedded in and structured by material objects, networks, and practices that delimit their uses and meanings. Any cultural artifact bears traces and consequences of the material conditions of its production, distribution, and reception, whether the size and weight of the camera that shot a film's images, the geography of the shipping or cable network through which a program was transported or transmitted, or the spaces occupied by physical record or DVD collections. Even ostensibly "dematerialized" digital media find material existence in hard disks, server farms, and wires— as well as in the proliferation of new media devices, from smart phones to iPads.

The perception of the diminished materiality of media presents us with an opportunity to reconsider (and reaffirm) the material dimensions of media, both in terms of the present moment and from an historical perspective. To this end, The Velvet Light Trap seeks articles considering the implications of the materiality of media, welcoming studies of film, television, and new media from a range of approaches— including historical, theoretical, ethnographic, and/or textual.

Potential areas of inquiry include (but are by no means limited to):
- the effects of technological and other material factors on film/media craft practices and style
- screen technologies and other exhibition devices, old and new
- issues in the political economy of the manufacture and disposal of media objects and devices (e.g., labor conditions, e-waste)
- logics and operations of physical networks of distribution and transmission
- media infrastructures and cultural geography
- physical interactivity with media interfaces
- the imitation of material objects in the digital realm (e.g., album art and liner notes)
- the resurgence of physical formats once presumed 'dead' (e.g., vinyl, cassette tapes)
- material dimensions of reception and fandom (e.g., collecting, scrapbooking)
- the aestheticization of media commodities
- materiality, memory, and nostalgia
- material media objects, cultural capital, and taste
- material collections, archiving, and film/media historiography
- the exploration of materiality by particular artists and/or texts
- materiality and avant-garde cinema
- media materiality and policy

Submissions should be between 6,000 and 7,500 words (approximately 20-25 pages double-spaced), in MLA style. Please submit one electronic copy of the paper, along with a one-page abstract, saved as a Word .doc file; remove any identifying information so that the submission is suitable for anonymous review. The journal's Editorial Board will referee all submissions. Send electronic manuscripts and/or any questions to All submissions are due September 15, 2011.

The Velvet Light Trap is an academic, peer-reviewed journal of film, television, and new media studies. Graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas-Austin alternately coordinate issues. The Editorial Advisory Board includes such notable scholars as Richard Allen, Henry Benshoff, Mia Consalvo, David Desser, Radhika Gajjala, Darrell Hamamoto, Joan Hawkins, Barbara Klinger, Jon Kraszewski, Joe McElhaney, Diane Negra, Michael Newman, Alisa Perren, Aswin Punathambekar, Yeidy Rivero, Nicholas Sammond, Beretta Smith-Shomade, Cristina Venegas, and Michael Williams.